Ukraine started a navigable canal through the middle of Danube Delta UNESCO Reservation putting at risk the whole biosphere * Ukraine and Romanian civil societies mobilized against this destructive project * The pro-Russian President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma inaugurated the first part of the canal Bystroe in August 2004 * Solidarity for the Danube Delta erupted in Romania's Capital * Bucharest was covered on 24th of August by the anti-Bystroe march organized by the Romanian civil society * Over 150 organizations that supported the initiative of ZIUA daily and Civic Media Association created the Coalition for the Danube Delta and asked Ukraine to immediately stop work at Bystroe canal * Their appeal was send to US, EU, Russia and Ukraine's high representatives * US State Department warned again Ukraine to hold the project * EU pay increased attention to the situation at the Danube mouths * The Ramsar Convention accuses Ukraine of breaking its international commitments * Romania officially requests an investigation at an international level * Moldavian ecologist staged also a protest in front of Ukraine Embassy in Chisinau on 21st of September * The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the main international environment organizations with consultative status at UE reunited in Geneva also on September 21st and asked Ukrainian authorities to stop building operations on Bystroe canal at once * International organizations asked for postponing the second stage of the project till a thorough study on the ecological consequences of this project would have been elaborated * The Geneva reunion also asked for permanent monitoring on the environment impact of the project's first stage * Starting on 23d of September, Ukraine entered several times with military ships into the Romanian territorial waters on the Danube branch of Chilia and attacked Romanian border Police * In the same time, in Ukraine, the state authorities went on threatening the director of the Danube Reservation and tried to discourage the Ukrainian NGOs fighting for saving the Delta * The European Commission asked officially Ukraine to stop the project launched in Danube Delta * After a long fight, democracy finally wins in Ukraine with the election of the democratic president Viktor Yushhcenko * Soon after, at the end of the last year, Romania has the same luck and Traian Basescu wins the Presidency putting and end to the regime of Ion Iliescu, a comrade of Leonid Kuchma * Ukrainian and Romanian civil society wrote this January open letters to the new democratic power asking to act decisively and stop the construction of the destructive canal in the Danube Delta * Over 43 000 people from 90 countries signed a Romanian World Wide Group electronic petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/RomDelta/
Romanian Civil Society asks president Yushchenko for justice in the Delta
The Ukrainian Government and the German construction company Moebius Bau AG started this year the construction of a deep navigation channel through the heart of Ukraine's portion of the Danube Delta Bilateral Biosphere Reserve. The first phase of this project was finished on August 24, 2004. According to numerous international organizations this channel will affect not only Ukraine and Romania environment and wild life, but also a large number of European, Mediterranean, Eurasian, and African countries. These various countries are Parties to a number of different international treaties, conventions, and agreements with Ukraine, all those international agreements aimed at protecting the natural environment and wild life.
This project lacked any transboundary assessment and public participation. At the same time, this project was made possible by a decree issued by the former Ukraine President, Leonid Kuchma. This decree arbitrary modified the borders of Ukraine's Danube Delta Natural Reservations. Eco-Pravo Lviv charged this decree in an attempt to restore one of the most important natural reservations in Ukraine.
According to scientists at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Danube Delta, where the river enters the Black Sea, is "the most important wetland area in Europe." It is also "the largest interconnected reed-bed in the world," the home to 325 species of birds and 75 species of fish, several of both listed in species Red Books and threatened with extinction, including here more than 70% of the world's white pelican population. The estuaries are important biological environments in that they form the spawning ground for many economically valuable marine species. The Danube Delta has been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1995 and was internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program in 1998.
During the last year, basically all the international organizations covering the issue of environmental protection expressed their concerns towards the Ukrainian project of Bystroi channel.
At least, but not the last, the construction of Bystroi channel has a profound geopolitical meaning which is bound to the interests of the New Russia with imperialistic tendencies at the borders of the New North Atlantic Alliance.
As you probably know, the Bystroi project triggered a very negative reaction among the Romanian and international public opinion. ZIUA Newspaper and Civic Media Association created a Coalition for Danube Delta, which united over 140 institutions, mass-media outlets and non-governmental organizations. 43.000 people from Romania, Ukraine, European Union, United States of America and all over the world signed an online petition asking the Kyiv Government to stop the Bystroi project (http://www.petitiononline.com/RomDelta/petition.html).
On 24 August 2004 Romania's Capital was covered by the anti-Bystroi march organized by the Romanian civil society. On this occasion the Coalition for Danube Delta asked Ukraine officially to immediately stop the dragging at Bystroi channel.
ZIUA Newspaper fully supported through the years the advance of democracy in Ukraine, publishing numerous articles over the corruption of Kuchma regime that affected the bilateral relations with Romania. At the same time ZIUA and Civic Media Association published during the electoral campaign the letter of Mrs Yuliya Tymoshenko, asking the Romanian public opinion to give its full support for a democratic change in Ukraine. This change is now a reality and we congratulate you for this. Your presence in the office of Ukraine President certainly will lead to a new course of history, a history that seemed to be already written by the Eastern power, including the relations with Romania. The "orange revolution" took place in Romania too, following a Romanian regime similar to that of Kuchma, a former regime that didn't react in time in order to promote the international measures necessary to stop the destructive channel in Danube Delta.
We hope that the democratic change in Ukraine will bring also a change of attitude towards Danube Delta, one of the most important natural reservations in the world. We are hoping that you have for us an answer according to the European and international conventions for wild life protection that both countries are part of.
ZIUA also remembers that there are other bilateral problems that await a solution, problems like the respect for the rights of Romanian community in Ukraine and the judicial problem over Serpent Island and territorial and economic waters in the Black Sea, subjects upon we kindly ask your position that will be published in ZIUA Newspaper.
We have trust that the democratic values shared by your Excellency will lead to a real partnership Ukraine-Romania, a partnership with visible effects in the security architecture of the entire region.
ZIUA and Civic Media
Societatea civila pentru salvarea Deltei Dunarii
Ucraina a demarat la inceputul anului 2004 constructia unui canal navigabil pe bratul Bastroe din Delta Dunarii, proiect extrem de periculos pentru intregul ecosistem al Deltei Dunarii. In incercarea de a avea acces direct pe Dunare la Marea Neagra, autoritatile ucrainene au decis sa construiasca un canal navigabil chiar prin mijlocul Rezervatiei Naturale Delta Dunarii, zona care face parte din patrimoniul UNESCO. Statele Unite, Uniunea Europeana si Romania, alaturi de prestigioase organizatii internationale de protectie a mediului, cum ar fi World Wildlife Fund, au criticat intentia Ucrainei de a construi acest canal navigabil in Delta Dunarii. Numerosi experti internationali au atras atentia Ucrainei si comunitatii internationale asupra faptului ca zeci de specii de pasari migratoare care tranziteaza Delta Dunarii in fiecare an, alaturi de numeroase specii de pesti, sunt amenintate cu disparitia in urma construirii canalului navigabil ucrainean pe bratul Bastroe. De altfel, proiectul a intampinat opozitia puternica a societatii civile din Ucraina, organizatiile de mediu din aceasta tara fiind primele care au protestat fata de constructia canalului.
In ceasul al 11-lea, autoritatile de la Bucuresti au reactionat la randul lor, solicitand Ucrainei sa opreasca ridicarea canalului pana la realizarea unui studiu independent care sa evalueze impactul constructiei asupra mediului inconjurator din Delta Dunarii. Reactia statului roman vine insa foarte tarziu, dupa ce ucrainenii au inceput constructia canalului, cu toate ca autoritatile de la Bucuresti stiau de planul Kievului inca din anul 2001.
Proiectul beneficiaza de sprijinul total al Guvernului ucrainean, care este dispus sa treca peste orice pentru a il duce la indeplinire. De altfel, desi proiectul incalca atat legislatia internationala de mediu, cat si legile interne ucrainene, Kievul considera ca este indreptatit sa finalizeze aceasta constructie.
Prin constructia acestui canal Ucraina incalca urmatoarele angajamente internationale asumate de Kiev: Conventia asupra zonelor umede - Ramsar, 1971; Conventia privind protectia patrimoniului mondial cultural si natural - Paris, 1975; Conventia privind conservarea vietii salbatice si a habitatelor naturale din Europa - Berna, 1979; Conventia privind diversitatea biologica - Rio de Janeiro, 1992; Conventia privind protectia si utilizarea cursurilor de apa transfrontaliere si a lacurilor internationale - Helsinki, 1992; Conventia privind cooperarea pentru protectia si utilizarea durabila a fluviului Dunarea - Sofia, 1994, si Acordul intre Guvernul Romaniei si Guvernul Ucrainei privind cooperarea in domeniul gospodaririi apelor de frontiera - Galati, 1997.
Consideram ca numai impreuna cu societatea civila ucraineana, dornica de o democratizare reala a Ucrainei, societatea civila romaneasca poate actiona la forurile europene si internationale pentru oprirea acestei constructii. De aceea ziarul ZIUA si Asociatia Civic Media incep o campanie mediatica al carei scop este salvarea Deltei Dunarii in fata acestei amenintari. Numai eforturile conjugate ale societatii civile responsabile din Romania si Ucraina pot avea sorti de izbanda. Va asteptam alaturi de noi.
Romanian and International Civil Society for saving the Danube Delta
At the beginning of 2004, Ukraine has started the construction of a shipping canal on the Bystroe arm of the Danube Delta.
The project is extremely dangerous to the entire echo-system of the Danube Delta. Ukraine authorities decided to build a shipping canal in order to have direct access to the Black Sea through the Danube river.
The canal passes through the Natural Reservation of the Danube Delta, an area integrated to UNESCO patrimony. The United States, the European Union and Romania, along with prestigious international organizations for environmental protection, such as World Wildlife Fund, have criticized Ukraine's intention to build this shipping canal in the Danube Delta. A large number of international experts have attracted the attention of both Ukraine and of the international community, claiming that several species of migratory birds that have transited the Danube Delta every year, along several species of fishes could disappear as a result of the building of the shipping canal on the Bastroe arm. In fact, the project has faced strong resistance from the civic society in Ukraine. The environmental organizations in this country were actually the first to protest against the building of the canal.
Almost at the last minute, the authorities in Bucharest have reacted upon the matter, demanding Ukraine to cease work at the shipping canal.
The decision is to be applied until research concerning the impact of the construction in question on environment in the Delta is carried out.
Although they had an idea about Kiev's plan ever since 2001, Romanian authorities reacted too late. Ukraine had already started working on the canal.
The project benefits of full support from the Ukrainian government. The latter is willing to move mountains in order to make it come true.
Moreover, although the project is breaking both international environmental laws and internal laws of Ukraine, Kiev authorities consider to be entitled to finalize this construction.
By building this shipping canal, Ukraine infringes the following international engagements, priorly assumed by Kiev: the Convention regarding humid areas -adopted at Ramsar, in 1971; Natural and cultural world-wide protection Convention -Paris, 1975; Wild life and natural habitat preservation In Europe Convention -Bern, 1979; the Convention concerning biologic diversity -Rio de Janeiro, 1992; the Protection and preservation of trans-frontier water flows and international lakes Convention -Helsinki, 1992; the Cooperation for protection and long term usage of the Danube river Convention -Sofia, 1994, and the signed Romanian -Ukrainian Governmental Agreement concerning cooperation in frontier water administration -Galati, 1997.
We think that only together with the Ukrainian civic society, willing to actually democratize Ukraine, the Romanian civic society would be able to act forward to the European and International forums and stop the building of this canal. That is reason for which ZIUA newspaper and Civic Media Association are beginning a media campaign in order to help protecting Danube Delta. Only through common efforts of the civic societies responsible, both Romanian and Ukrainian, can this be obtained. We are hoping you'll join us.
Tel: +40 21 315 91 11
Fax: +40 21 312 01 85
Salvati Biosfera Delta Dunarii!
Continuam campania destinata avertizarii institutiilor internationale pentru incetarea lucrarilor Canalului ucrainean sau impunerea unui embargo Ucrainei
Constient de rolul media in societatea civila romaneasca, ziarul ZIUA a lansat o noua campanie civica, destinata Salvarii Biosferei Delta Dunarii, printr-un apel adresat organizatiilor non-guvernamentale din Romania si Ucraina, din Uniunea Europeana si Statele Unite ale Americii, din spatiul nord-atlantic. Efortul acestora conjugat, indreptat catre atentionarea constanta a organismelor europene si internationale si corelat cu posibilitatea schimbarii democratice din toamna a actualului regim ucrainean, pot duce la stoparea lucrarilor de distrugere a Deltei.
Consideram ca intr-un astfel de moment este necesar ca media romanesti sa treaca de eventualele divergente de ordin editorial sau concurential si sa actioneze impreuna, in egala masura, in aceasta campanie care se doreste a fi a intregii societati civile romanesti.
ZIUA va publica constant apelul pentru Salvarea Biosferei Deltei Dunarii, insotit de adeziunile organizatiilor non-guvernamentale din Romania, Ucraina si din intreaga lume, precum si informatii despre formele acestora de actiune. Solicitam colegilor din media sa actioneze in mod similar pana la incetarea acestei agresiuni asupra Rezervatiei naturale Delta Dunarii.
Intr-un recent apel adresat ministrilor de Externe din tarile dunarene, Fondul Mondial pentru Natura (World Wild Fund) afirma: "In pofida existentei unor rute alternative si mult mai putin nocive de navigare intre Dunare si Marea Neagra, aceasta zona protejata este in prezent distrusa, in ciuda a cel putin 11 conventii internationale la care Ucraina este semnatara. Proiectul de construire a canalului, valorand mai multe milioane de dolari, pune in pericol existenta si habitatul natural a peste 280 de specii de pasari, incluzand aici 70% din intreaga populatie de pelican alb a planetei".
Prezentam mai jos lista organizatiilor care actioneaza in prezent pentru stoparea canalului si au raspuns apelului pentru salvarea Deltei Dunarii.
- World Wild Fund International
Legal Actions to Protect the
Links to Documents (as of
The Ukrainian Government and the German construction company
Moebius are digging a deep navigation canal through the heart of
Ecopravo-Lviv (EPL), an environmental law firm in
This page provides weblinks for access to copies of the
legal complaints, cases, and arguments regarding the violations of international
and national law by the Ukraine Government in constructing the navigation canal
through Bystre Mouth of the
All documents are in English unless noted otherwise. Major documents are shown in bold italics.
EPL has filed legal complaints with a number of international bodies that are responsible for administering international law affecting the Danube Delta Bilateral Biosphere Reserve.
Formal Complaint filed by EPL with Wiecher Schrage, Secretary of the
Espoo EIA Convention, August 11, 2003, on "
Copy of above Formal Complaint in Ukrainian, with cover letter sent by EPL to Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in August 2003. http://www.epl.org.ua/files/Danube/ESPOO_complaint_u.DOC
Supplemental letter filed with the Secretatiat by EPL on
Report of meeting of Implementation Committee on 30-31 October 2004, refusing to consider EPL.s submission on the ground that information provided so far was .insufficient to demonstrate either that there was a transboundary effect, or that the activity described fell within the scope of the Convention.. http://www.unece.org/env/documents/2004/eia/wg.1/mp.eia.wg.1.2004.3.e.pdf
Letter to EPL from Secretariat on behalf
of Implementation Committee,
Additional letter with supplemental information filed by EPL with Wiecher Schrage, Secretary of the Espoo EIA Convention, December 12, 2003, providing factual information and legal affidavits showing both transboundary effect and that the navigation canal falls within the scope of the Convention. http://www.epl.org.ua/files/Danube/espoo_additional_letter.doc
Decision of Implementation Committee, 18-19 December 2003
Note: In May 2004 the Government of Romania submitted its own formal Complaint to the Espoo Implementation Committee. See section III of these files.
Letter of Emergency Notification filed by EPL with Arnulf Müller-Helmbrecht, Executive Secretary UNEP/CMS Secretariat (Bonn Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species), April 24, 2004, noting Ukraine's failure to fulfill "its obligations of assessment, consultation, and decisionmaking under the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Conservation Measures for the Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris (MOU for the Slender-billed Curlew), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), and the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention)." http://www.epl.org.ua/files/emergency%20notification,%20Bonn%20Conv.doc
Ukraine was the second
nation to ratify the Aarhus Public Participation Convention, which requires
notification to the public and adequate public participation in any
Formal Complaint ("Communication from the Public") filed by EPL with the Compliance Committee of the UN ECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, May 5, 2004, detailing how Ukraine has "ignored its obligations under the Aarhus Convention and violated our right to participation in the environmental decision-making." http://www.epl.org.ua/files/Danube/communication.doc
Letter from Secretariat of the Aarhus
Convention to Olga Marushevska, Vice-Head, Department of International
Relations, Ministry for Environmental Protection, noting that the Compliance
Committee has admitted EPL's communication for consideration and asking for
Note: In May 2004 the Government of Romania submitted its own formal Complaint to the Aarhus Compliance Committee. See section III of these files.
Emergency Complaint filed by EPL with Permanent Secretariat of the International Commission for the Protection of Danube River, May 2004, on "violations of the Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River by Ukraine." http://www.epl.org.ua/files/Danube/Danube_petition.doc and http://www.epl.org.ua/files/Danube/cover_letter.doc
II. EPL DOCUMENTS ON VIOLATIONS OF
A. Withdrawal of straits and internal
ponds from the
We are awaiting the decision of Supreme Commercial Court of Ukraine on our cassation appeal.
(All documents available in Ukrainian at http://epl.org.ua/a_spv_Dunaj_k.htm )
B. Challenging of the environmental expertiza conclusion in court
EPL filed two suits to courts
challenging the environmental expertiza conclusion №105 regarding the
Technical and Economic Assessment (TEA) of Investments of construction of the
the first case, court of first instance ruled in favor of EPL and declared
invalid the environmental expertiza conclusion N105 of
The Appeal court annulled first instance court's decision. We filed a cassation appeal to the Supreme Commercial Court of Ukraine. The court hearing is scheduled on October, 2004.
In the second case, EPL suit is still under the consideration of the court of first instance.
(All documents available in Ukrainian at http://epl.org.ua/a_spv_Dunaj_k.htm )
C. Challenging of the Decree of the President of
Staff attorney of EPL, Skrylnikov
D., filed a complaint to the court challenging Paragraph 3 of the Decree of the
President of Ukraine, amending the President's Decree from
The court rendered a decision to dismiss the complaint of the citizen D. Skrylnikov. Skrylnikov appealed to the second instance court. The results of the appellate court hearing were also not favorable. D.Skrylnikov filed a cassation appeal.
(All documents available in Ukrainian at http://epl.org.ua/a_spv_Dunaj_k.htm )
For more information see: http://epl.org.ua/a_cases_Danube_C.htm
III. OTHER DOCUMENTS ON VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
EPL is not the only
organization to note the obligations and violations of international law
A. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT COMPLAINTS ABOUT
Romanian official statement to the Third
Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo EIA Convention,
Romania.s Complaint to the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention, 26 and 12 May 2004. [weblink not currently available.]
Romania.s Complaint to the Compliance
Committee of the Aarhus Convention,
Diplomatic Actions by
Romanian Ministry of External Affairs
Romanian Government.s 31 May 2004 public statement about meeting between State Secretary Bogdan Aurescu, NGOs, Ministry for Environment and Waters Management, and "The Danube Delta" Biosphere Reservation Administration. http://www.gov.ro/engleza/presa/afis-doc.php?idpresa=2159&idrubricapresa=&idrubricaprimm=&idtema=&tip=&pag=1&dr=
Romanian Ministry of External Affairs December 4, 2004, public statement concerning the resolution that it persuaded the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River to adopt on 1-2 December 2003, meeting in Vienna (in Romanian). http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=8101
12 Diplomatic Notes sent by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ukrainian Government during 2002, 2003, and 2004, on the proposed Bystroe Canal. [weblink not currently available.]
Letter of Romanian Ministry of Environment and Waters
Management to Ukrainian Government,