More than twenty environmental organisations from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia joined forces in Bosnia’s capital on Saturday to campaign against hydroelectric dams in the Balkan region.
With their new green association and motto “Let’s Defend the Balkan Rivers”, they want to pressure their respective lawmakers to ban dams.
There has been a rise in the construction of mini-hydropower plants throughout the Western Balkans over the past decade. “The whole Balkans has been under attack,” said Robert Oroz, whose organisation has been fighting to stop the Zeljeznica River in central Bosnia from being dammed.
“This movement in the Balkans is unique in Europe,” said Anes Podic from the Sarajevo-based Eko Akcija. “If it was not for the activists, all our rivers would have long been set in concrete.”
Environmental activists are slowly becoming a respectable force in a region where so far, no green political party has been registered. In Serbia, some environmental organisations have formed alliances and are preparing to run in local elections next year.
“Simply, the people have gathered around something which is not dividing them,” said Serbian environmental activist Aleksandar Jovanovic Cuta.
“The protection of nature is the only topic which makes sense to the people after 30 years of hopelessness,” he said, referring to the period following the Balkan wars in the 1990s.