|Mayor of Pogradec, Mr. Eduard Kapri|
Mr. Kapri: The project started with the signing of an Agreement in 2005 between the governments of FYROM and Albania for the protection and sustainable development of Lake Ohrid and its watershed. Both governments are committed to undertaking development and spatial management plans of the area of Lake Ohrid. A steering committee of experts from the two countries are working together to define the criteria, standards, restrictions and clear objectives for the protection of Lake Ohrid region in accordance with EU standards and principles. We hope this project will contribute in this direction.
What are the concrete measures that the Municipality of Pogradec will undertake to save and protect Lake Ohrid?
Mr. Kapri: Based on the new administrative division of Albania, Pogradec Municipality is the sole local government unit responsible for the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid. Currently, our municipality is preparing a Local Action Plan (LAP) and is one of 26 municipalities to be financially and technically supported by the Government of Albania. Issues related to the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Lake Ohrid basin as well as conservation, water quality, its flora and fauna, will be an integral part of the plan.
What is the tourism development plan for the area? Will there be constructions on the lake shore?
Mr. Kapri: We see tourism development of the area as an essential factor for economic development and support the idea of alternative tourism, in order to make our Lake Ohrid very attractive for tourists throughout the whole year. Pogradec has plenty of tourism resources, which need a new management concept, so that they can bring revenues to the local community. We are also looking at ways of cooperation over tourism with the Macedonian side. The introduction of Lake Ohrid as a joint ecosystem and having a unified tourism product will really have a positive impact on both countries and increase the number of tourists.
How do you plan to raise awareness and involve the community to save the outstanding values of Lake Ohrid ?
Mr. Kapri: Pogradec inherits a tradition and obligation to conserve and protect Lake Ohrid. Our citizens have always seen the lake as a valuable resource, and have treated it as a gift from God. A network of local environmental NGO-s was established during 1996-2004, under the Regional Environmental Centre in order to raise public awareness and participation, thus becoming a factor and a partner of the municipality in decision making for the region of Lake Ohrid. We also consider as a necessity the cross-border cooperation. Together with municipalities of Struga and Ohrid we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Wismar and another on technical cooperation, will be signed in Ohrid. This is the only way to ensure sustainable development of the Lake, inspired by the motto "One lake, one vision, one future"