25 september, 2018

Infotag's interview with Director of the Eco-Tiras International Association of Dniester River Keepers, environmental expert Ilya Trombitchi on the results of the first meeting of the Commission for Sustainable Use and Protection of the Dniester Basin.

Question: Are there any conclusions drawn on the planned construction of the six hydroelectric power stations, and part of the Moldovan shore on the buffer reservoir?

So far, the Commission has not started to analyze the likely consequences of such impacts on the Dniester River, as they are still being evaluated by the experts. The meeting participants have not touched upon the issue of the six hydropower stations at all, since the aim of the first meeting was to launch the commission's work by taking rules of operation and creation of working groups, including approval of their functions.

Q: What do the environmentalists think, and what is the official position of Moldova and Ukraine?

The official position has not been discussed in detail, although the Moldovan and the Ukrainian non-governmental organizations expressed their opinion on the construction of the hydropower stations on the Dniester River by issuing a joint statement on July 3. Furthermore, UkrHidroEnergo brought up for discussion a draft project of Operation Rules on Dniester Hydropower Complex. A number of organizations, including Eco-Tiras, have presented UkrHidroEnergo their own proposals on the rules improvement and expected for a reaction, however, it did not follow, because this work is not completed. That is why one of the formed working groups, including me, will analyze the project in a modified form in order to develop the commission's common view.

Q: What is the position of the Moldovan side? Is it ready to protect national interests when it comes to the Dniester?

It is hard to say now; it will become clear only during the next meetings of the commission.

Q: What is the stepping stone to the commission's future work?

The Commission has approved the profiles of each of the working groups and instructed them to develop action plans of their activity, which embrace the main problems of the Dniester, such as bilateral basin management plan, decision making on the most acute problems (chemical-waste storage, the state of sewage disposal plant, impact of hydropower on the Dniester, etc.). I think that by the next meeting many approaches will be formulated and a progressive problem solving will begin. It is not going to be simple, as both sides are used to solve economic problems According to the expense of the environment, and in many cases its improvement requires funding. Adoption of balanced and effective decisions is possible only under democracy and effective governance of the countries on the basis of the concept of sustainable development, the deficit of which is demonstrated by both Ukraine and Moldova.

So far, the Global Environment Fund supports the Commission's work. However, in two years the fund will cease this support and the countries will have to finance the Commission's work themselves. I suppose that this will be one of the main challenges for both countries against the background of hydropower engineers' desire to increase the activity on the Dniester, and oligarchs' shadow interests formed in this regard. Therefore, the only one protection mechanism of public interests is transparency of the Commission's work, as well as the required reaction to the submitted draft decisions.

The Eco-Tiras has already proposed amendments to the Commission's Operation Rules, which were mainly adopted. In this respect I want to make it clear that today the society has mechanisms of influence on the commission's work and decisions taken, but the society needs to closely monitor the commission's work and actively respond by timely submission of qualified proposals for the draft decisions.

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