On December 17 2022 the news portal propago.gr “honored” the Aoos River, through an extensive and informative post.
The article describes European rivers’ current status and its natural characteristics alteration – as a result of human activities/interventions. However, the situation in the Balkans differs, with the majority of rivers today remaining almost untouched (partially or not modified at all), with their natural and wild flow uninterrupted by artificial barriers.
Scientists, civil society organizations, local communities, universities and activists are coming together through the international campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” to raise awareness among the public decision-makers about the importance of European free-flowing rivers and the need to protect them.
The cross-border river Aoos/Vjosa is the river- symbol of the campaign, with valuable characteristics that make it unique! The efforts to protect and promote the largest free-flowing river in Europe, from both Greece and Albania, have been going on for more than half a century and they are still ongoing.
The Greek government is committed to designate the unprotected part of Aoos as a “protected natural formation with conditions and restrictions for the protection and conservation of the area’s nature”. In Albania, efforts to protect and enhance the river have intensified over the last decade, mainly because the river was under threat from numerous hydroelectric projects planned to be implemented along it, and the political leadership has committed to designate the Vjosa river (Aoos in Albanian) as a National Park.
European policy on free-flowing rivers is based on legislation, particularly on the Water Framework Directive. Under its Biodiversity strategy to 2030, it calls on Member States to free up 25,000 km of European rivers over the next decade.
The Greece-Albanian alliance is a unique opportunity not only to support the new Biodiversity Strategy, but also to promote the Aoos/Vjosa river as one of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe, as a best practice example to restore other rivers.
On 18 December 2022, MedINA was hosted on the radio show PARAPOLITIKA 90,1 FM of Spyros Xaritatos and Baya Antonopoulou. Alexandra Pappa, MedINA’s Freshwater Programme Manager, referred to the threats the Aoos River and its tributaries are facing, mainly from the upcoming construction of small hydroelectric dams across their flow, the opportunities for sustainable development of the region, as well as the commitments of the political leadership in Greece and Albania for the institutional protection of the Aoos/Vjosa River across the border, as a first step to maintain it in good condition for future generations.