Socio-ecological Union
Projects and campaigns


"Use the chance to tell the truth and to save the Danube reserve. Don't let Ukrainian officials deceive you!" - Danube reserve defenders plead to the international mission to Ukraine.

The international mission under the auspices of the European Commission will come to the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta on October 6-8. Ten people are to see the cause of the international scandal - a navigation canal through the Danube reserve. The mission's task is to verify the information presented by the Ukrainian Government in a reply to a letter from EU Commissioner for the Environment Margot Wallstroem, and information disseminated by Ukrainian officials at various international meetings and fora. The mission members represent EC, IUCN, UNESCO, and the Danube, Ramsar, Espoo and Aarhus Conventions.

Despite the launch of the first stage of the canal, the Ukrainian and international environmental community has not given up attempts to save this unique natural site. The canal is just a first step of corrupt Ukrainian officials towards the total destruction of the Danube reserve. On October 6-8 Socio-ecological Union International Odessa branch, Ukrainian Coalition for Wild nature, WWF are organising an extraordinary public Forum to save the Danube Reserve. The forum will focus on two problems - the canal and further development of this harmful and illegal project, and on Ukrainian government plans for further encroachment on the Danube Biosphere Reserve.

The Forum participants will demand a meeting with the international mission to the Danube delta, as this is a unique opportunity to tell the truth about the canal and public opposition to the project. The Ukrainian Government has ignnored all public demands to preserve the Danube Delta and has - launched insteadthe international misinformation campaign - to defend by any means the project which damages the reserve. The Ministry of Transport of Ukraine is disseminating cynically untruthful reports about the canal's construction, especially regarding the public participation. The lies start with the statement that they are merely restoring the deep-water navigation along the Bystre Gyrlo, the truth is it has never existed at the Bystre estuary.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and especially its representative Ms Zarudna has taken every effort to deny the obvious - ongoing works in the Kilia Branch. During several international meetings, including the ICDPR Working Group Meeting in September, she stated that stage 1 of the canal construction is finished and that stage two would start only in 2005. However, the dredging vessel of Moebius M30 is currently pouring pulp on the Yermakov Island in the Kilia Branch of the Danube Delta (to look a photo).

Lately Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr A. Grishchenko has found a good way to spend Ukrainian state money by placing a paid article in advertising suppliment of the Washington Post, describing the canal as " a marriage of economy and ecology".

Ukrainian activists suspect that some of the foreign partners of Ukraine would be happy to be deceived - as long as a semblance of democratic procedures is created.
This possibility of political compromise at the expense of the environment is what Ukrainian officials are counting on.
This is why the representatives of public Forum in Aid of the Danube Reserve insist on meeting and consultations with the mission.

Taking into account previous experience of international missions to Ukraine related to the Danube Delta problem, one may expect different obstacles to be created by Ukrainian officials for the meeting of mission members and the Danube reserve defenders.
In this situation a lot will depend on the will of international mission members - if they really want to see and report the real situation.

In the month that has passed since the canal launch through the Bystre Gyrlo Ukrainian officials have clearly demonstrated the way they are going to deal with the problem around the Danube Delta - to eliminate the source of the conflict - the Danube Reserve itself.

Changes of the Danube reserve zoning/zonation has nothing to do with science - it was done according to directions from the Government. More valuable areas - Potapov and Starostambulsky estuaries' shores, Kubanu and Lebedinka islands are to be moved from strictly protected to anthropogenic landscapes.

This means an absolutely different regime of protection, allowing various activities, so these valuable areas are too under threat now. It is necessary to mention that Kubanu Island is a breeding and nesting ground of 10% of Europe's population of the endangered rare Ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca)

The Vilkovo Town Council, with the support of Ukrainian officials and business, are demanding in court the inner waters of the reserve - though these areas have never belonged to Vilkovo. If the court supports the demand and new zoning is accepted - nothing will remain of the Danube Reserve.

The forum address
House of Scientists, Sabaneev bridge, 4, Odessa

OSEU E-mail-
+38 0482 26-82-75 - Alla Shevchuk - Russian
+38 0482 22-05-34 - Alfred, English,
+38 0482 35-81-70 - Tatiana, Russian
+38 0482 23-12-20 - Ivan Rusev - English

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