On September 25th 2020, the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, spoke out in favor of the establishment of a Vjosa national park and against the hydropower projects:
“I am in favor of a national park. The electricity can be generated differently, mainly by solar and wind, so there is no need to destroy the Vjosa. However, we need to have more dialogue between the different stakeholders, including the governmental institutions, to discuss the future of this remarkable river”.
Following his statement, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced to the media that he also is in favor of establishing a Vjosa National Park and that the Kalivaç dam has been rejected by the Minister of Environment.
On his official twitter account, Edi Rama posted: “I agree with Ilir Meta that the future is not destruction, but how good it would have been if he had protected Valbona from destruction when he was deputy head of Sali Berisha’s government, as he protects Vjosa today from the imaginary danger of hydropower plants that will not be built. Our government has declared the Upper Vjosa a National Park. Our Ministry of Environment has officially refused to grant a permit for HPP projects in the lower Vjosa river”.
Edi Rama’s statement was welcomed by MedINA’s partners, Riverwatch and EuroNatur, that announced:
“Following the PM’s message, this is the right time to start a dialogue with the scientists, public authorities and civil society about the future of the Vjosa and the establishment of a Vjosa National Park. I am sure many international institutions will be ready to support this path”, said Riverwatch CEO Ulrich Eichelmann.
“Establishing a national park on the entire Vjosa and stopping hydropower is the right step. But in Albania there are other destructive projects like in Valbona National Park – we strongly urge that they will be stopped immediately as well”, commented Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of the EuroNatur Foundation.
Well, for now, Aoos/Vjosa continues to be an untamed and free-flowing river and Greece along with Albania have the unique opportunity to promote it as a best practice example of wild free-flowing rivers throughout Europe.