Sava River to become a regional economic connector

125.jpgThe Sava River, which runs from Slovenia through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Serbia, where it connects with the Danube, should become completely navigable, officials from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and BiH agreed. The ministers of the member states of the Sava Commission — founded by an agreement in 2002 — met at a Zagreb conference last month, and unanimously adopted a declaration on the river.

The document will serve as a basis to implement a plan making the river navigable 600km up from its mouth in Belgrade, as well as to enable regional co-operation, economic development and environmental protection of the basin.

“This is an ambitious project for the future, which costs a lot of money. I’d like participants in the Sava Basin meeting — to be held in Slovenia in 2011 or 2013 to — come to Catez by boat on the Sava River,” Slovenian Economics Minister Andrej Vizjak said.

The Sava is created by two headwaters, Sava Dolinka (left) and Sava Bohinjka (right), which join between the towns of Lesce and Radovljica in Slovenia. From there until it joins the Danube in Belgrade, it is 945km long.

Conference participants agreed that the Sava is an important navigational route, and that it should become part of the navigational routes of Europe. Navigational safety and environmental protection were also discussed at the conference.

Serbian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Waters Slobodan Milosavljevic said his country is especially interested in sustainable management and water quality of the river. He also said the Sava has significant potential to spark the growth of regional economic co-operation. Complete river navigation would benefit all four countries through which the Sava runs, he said, and even those through which it does not, added BiH Minister of Communications and Traffic Božo Ljubić.

The host of the conference, Croatian Minister of Sea, Tourism, Traffic and Development Bozidar Kalmeta, said that the main goal of the Sava Commission is, by 2011, to make the river navigable year round, from Sisak in Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia — not just 250 days a year. The Croatian government is working hard on the project and invested 20m euros last year.

By the end of this government’s mandate, said Kalmeta, Parliament will receive a special plan for the building of a Danube-Sava channel.

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