1.	Contrary to the announcement of Albania´s Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Minister for Environment does not plan a national park and no protection status at all for the most valuable river stretches like this one near Poçem. © Gernot Kunz

++ 94 % of Albanians in favour of establishing Vjosa National Park ++ IUCN confirms the potential of Vjosa River for becoming a National Park ++ Albanian Environmental Minister has opposing plan++ Today, EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur informed the public about the latest developments regarding the Vjosa.

Kosovo: Destroyed river bed inside Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park as a result of  Kelag (KelKos) hydropower construction © Shpresa Loshaj

The two hydropower plants of Kelag (Kelkos) in the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo must be taken off the grid again. This is the decision of a court in Prishtina! A few weeks ago, Kelag announced that it has fulfilled the requirements and has therefore been granted permits for two of the three hydropower plants in the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo.

The Ugar in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a pristine mountain river where large Huchen spawned every spring. Now, two Kelag power plants drain most of the water and the Huchen are gone. © Amel Emric

The Austrian Kelag likes to present itself as a modern company with the highest environmental and social standards. However, reality paints a quite different picture: the Kelag is a problematic company in the Balkans. For years, environmental organizations and local residents have been protesting against its hydropower projects and the behavior of its employees, especially in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

© Seppo Leinonen

Rivers in the EU are saturated with hydropower, leaving only 40% in good ecological condition. Migratory fish populations have declined by 93% in Europe since the 1970s. Nevertheless over 5500 new hydropower projects are planned to clog our last intact river stretches for a negligible energy yield.  150 NGOs are now calling on the EU institutions to end public financing for new hydropower projects in Europe.

This is what "clean" energy of the Kelag looks like: the destroyed river Lumbardhi in the National Park. © Shpresa Loshaj

In Kosovo, Kelag had to take the three hydropower plants Deçani, Belaja, Lumbardhi II, operated by its subsidiary KELKOS, from the grid! All three plants are located inside a national park. Kelag put these power plants in operation years ago. However, since they still failed to fulfilled the environmental requirements for construction and operation despite numerous requests, they had to take the three power plants off the grid at 00:00 the night before yesterday.

Vjosa be free © Oblak Aljaz

In a reaction to the statement of Albanian President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced to the media today that he also is in favor of establishing a Vjosa National Park and that the Kalivaç dam has been rejected by the Minister for Environment. We highly welcome todays statement of Albania's PM Edi Ramas, that the Vjosa river will be saved and the Kalivaç dam will not be build. This is the right time to start a dialogue about the future of the Vjosa.

++ Vjosa Research Centre in Tepelena inaugurated ++ Scientists refute Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on Kalivaç hydropower plant ++ Albanian President speaks out in favour of Vjosa National Park ++ IUCN promises support ++ Today, the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, together with representatives of the Universities of Tirana and Vienna and the Mayor of Tepelena Tërmet Peçi, inaugurated the Vjosa Research Center

This is what destructive hydropower looks like. Below the dam, the river is reduced to a trickle, here at the Ugar river in Bosnia and Herzegovina © Amel Emric

In response to growing public opposition against destructive small hydropower in the region and an increasing number of complaints to the Energy Community Secretariat the Energy Community Secretariat has now published special policy guidelines on small hydropower projects. Furthermore, the Energy Community Secretariat has officially opened a dispute settlement procedure against Albania.

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