Ukraine’s Construction of a Navigation Canal on the Chilia Arm of the Danube River
Subsequent to demands, international conventions have addressed the Ukrainian President and authorities. During some rounds of bilateral negotiations of the Agreement concerning the delimitations of the maritime zones of Romania and Ukraine in the Black Sea (e.g. Braila, Romania, 14th of April 2004), the Romanian delegation asked for information and consultation but no answer was received in this respect until now – even during the meetings, Ukraine has shown peoccupation with the Bystroe matter.
During 6th -10th of May 2004, Mr .Herve Lethier, expert of the Council of Europe, expertised the Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation- Romania and with this occasion, he has requested that the Governor of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation be a member of the common mission that visited Ukraine in the second half of June 2004. The mission was composed of the representatives of the Ramsar Convention, of the MAB Programme and of Council of Europe. The Governor of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation will represent, within this mission, the Ramsar Convention.
The Bystroe issue was also approached by the Presidents of Romania and Ukraine, Mr. Ion Iliescu and Mr. Leonid Kucima respectively, during the 11th Summit of the Heads of States. Demands to the Ukrainian authorities have also been pleaded by other
Governments (Germany and United States of America), so far with no success.
6. The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), created under the auspices of the 1994 Sofia Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River, adopted a Resolution on the Bystroe issue at its 6111 Ordinary Meeting (Vienna, Austria, 1st-2nd of December 2003). The Resolution outlines the ICPDR's recognition of, and concerns regarding, the construction plans for the Bystroe Canal. According to the Resolution, the lCPDR President wrote a letter to the Government of the Ukraine requesting information about the canal project and expressing concerns related to possible environmental assessments of the project and concerns shared by other international bodies devoted to Danube and Black Sea water management (Black Sea Commission, Ramsar Secretariat, UNESCO MAB and European Commission).
ICPDR asked also for an impact assessment of the Bystroe Canal construction, but up to now, no answer was received from the Ukrainian Government.
A lot of demands were also made by Ukrainian, Romanian and international environmental NGOs. For example, the World Wildlife Fund has been especially active in involving the international community in coming to terms with the reality of the Canal's impact on the region and its inhabitants. Additionally, the Danube Environmental Forum (DEF) drafted at its General Assembly (Qbrenovac, Serbia & Montenegro, 27th-28th November 2003) a "Bystroe Statement", recommending to Ukrainian authorities that all canal construction presently underway be halted until a complete and independent environmental impact assessment of transboundary magnitude is conducted, and adequate participation of all interested and affected parties, namely NGOs, relevant stakeholders and the general public basin-wide, is guaranteed.
Disregarding environmental impact assessments, Ukrainian authorities are promoting the Bystroe Canal, specifying the project as an opportunity for social and economic development in the region, as it will create jobs for locals and encourage trade in the region.
It is worth mentioning that the Report released in October 2003 by the Ramsar- UNESCO Mission in the Ukrainian Danube Delta, signaled that the choice of the Bystroe branch for the waterway construction represents the worst solution and that a request was made for a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that was never fulfilled.
Finally, it is to be mentioned that Ukraine's Bystroe Canal project contravenes several bilateral agreements and multilateral conventions as are mentioned in the following chapter.