Greece, Albania and FYROM must join forces to save Prespes Lakes

Greece, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) must immediately launch a close cooperation to effectively manage the waters of the Prespes Lakes which they share, experts told a recent environmental seminar in Kozani. Efforts to boost the water quality and protect the water resources of the Great and Little Prespa lakes started in 2000 with the establishment of a coordination committee for the Prespes park. The committee, comprising government representatives from the three countries, convenes twice a year to discuss the problems threatening the lakes, but experts argue that a structured and rigorous action plan is necessary if progress is to be made. The Prespes area merits more attention than any other bodies of water in the western Balkans, Alkiviadis Stamos of the National Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration told the Kozani seminar. He said, however, that an exhaustive study of the dynamics of the two lakes has yet to be conducted and noted that such an insight was vital if the waters were to be effectively managed and protected. Great Prespa (the largest lake in the Balkans, divided between Greece, FYROM and Albania) has been deemed a wetland of international significance for its flora and fauna and is protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, but the quality of its water has deteriorated over the past few years and needs upgrading, according to experts. Little Prespa, meanwhile, (belonging almost wholly to Greece with a small part lying in Albania) retains its high water quality but has dropped 5 meters since 1988 and cannot afford an ongoing fall, experts warn. The World Wildlife Fund intends to invest 15 million dollars in works in FYROM and Albania – but not Greece, which has already received 4.5 million euros in EU funding for works on its sections of both lakes.

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