CULTURE

Cross-border cooperation at Prespes lake district

Prespes is a magical place. It has green mountains, wetlands, reed fields, a unique ecosystem, picturesque abandoned villages with stone houses carrying the scars of the Greek Civil War, Byzantine monuments, and the two lakes, Mikri (Small) Prespa and Megali (Big) Prespa, which are shared by three countries: Greece, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

It was there that the annual Prespeia Festival was born 23 years ago. The brainchild of Giorgos Lianos, the festival was supported by the Ministry of Culture and local authorities, and presented international events that were pioneering at the time, bringing thousands of visitors to the area from all around the globe and establishing the remote beauty spot on the world travel map.

This year?s event starts on August 21 and will be dedicated to acclaimed Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, who died earlier this year in an accident while on set. The director made several films in the region, including the 1991 romantic drama ?The Suspended Step of the Stork.?

Many changes have taken place since the first Prespeia Festival in 1989, the most significant being the construction of the Egnatia Highway, which has made access to Prespes a lot easier, and a bridge now connects the islet of Aghios Achilleios in Mikri Prespa to the shore.

Prespes has luxury guesthouses and B however, in an example of the cross-border cooperation, the new tour route is expected to take in the six cavernous monasteries on the Albanian shores of the lake, the Mal Grad islet, also in Albanian territory, as well as the island of Golem Grad in FYROM.

Meanwhile, local authorities are also planning to extend their collaboration by creating a network of footpaths between Greece and FYROM, allowing travelers in both countries to make new discoveries.