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C 137 E/134 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

(2003/C 137 E/153) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2944/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(18 October 2002)

Subject: Shrinkage and disappearance of lakes on Macedonia’s southern border due to abstraction of water
for use in farming on the Greek side of the border

1. Is the Commission aware that the water level in the Dojransko Ezero lake in the Gevgelija district
(‘opsjtina’) in the south-east of the Republic of Macedonia on the border with the Kilkis district (‘nomos’) in
the region of Kentriki Makedonia, Greece, which used to cover an area of 42 km2, has fallen by seven
metres since 1988, as a result of which the remaining water is turning into a pool of mud with a high
concentration of the toxic algae Microcystis and Anabaena?

2. Can the Commission confirm that this fall in the water level, which has destroyed both fishing and
tourism/recreation, is largely due to the fact that, since the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, 9 000 000 m3
of water per annum has been pumped out of the lake on the Greek side of the border for use in
agricultural irrigation?

3. Is a similar fall in water level taking place in the Prespansko Ezero lake on Macedonia’s south-western
border with Greece due to water abstraction by Greece, which could ultimately likewise result in a fall in
water level in the Ohridsko Ezero lake, a well-known destination for tourists by the town of Ohrid, as
these lakes are connected underground?

4. Is it true that the infrastructure built by Macedonia to solve the problems of the Dojransko Ezero
lake, which involved tapping into an underground lake on the western side near Bogdanci and conveying
the water over a distance of 20 km, so that, by discharging 1 000 litres of water per second, it will be
possible to restore the previous water level in 8 years, cost EUR 13 million and that Greece did not make
any contribution to this?

5. How long will the water in the underground lake near Bogdanci last? What impact will it have on
the surrounding area and the nearby river Vardar (Axiós) if the underground lake is ultimately exhausted?

6. Is it acceptable for an EU Member State to cause serious damage to a neighbouring state by means of
cross-border activities, not to pay adequate compensation and now moreover to derive benefit from the
measures which a small impoverished neighbouring state has taken to limit the damage within its own
borders?

7. What long-term solutions are necessary to prevent any recurrence within the present and future
territory of the EU of a disaster such as that which occurred previously when the Aral Sea on the border
between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the former Soviet Union dried up? Who will implement the
requisite measures?

Source: Rotterdams Dagblad, 5 October 2002.

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(28 November 2002)

The Commission is aware of the drop in the water levels of Lake Dojran due to extraction of water for
irrigation but according to information at its disposal the situation in Lake Prespa is not comparable as no
water is extracted on the Greek side. The Commission has been informed by the authorities of the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that the water transfer project is exclusively financed from their
own resources. The Commission financed a pre-feasibility study under its PHARE Cross-Border Programme
Small Project Facility. The objective was to set up a strategy for a future detailed feasibility study for
revitalisation of Dojran Lake as a regional ecological entity. The Commission has no technical information
that enables it to comment on the likelihood of the underground lake near Bogdanci becoming exhausted
nor on its potential consequences although FYROM has stated that there is no risk as the wells are located
in the adjoining alluvium of the Vardar (Axios) River and the respective groundwater is continuously
recharged by river water. A long-term solution would be the establishment of a joint lake watershed
management plan and management committee in line with the provisions of the EU Water Framework
Directive (1).
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/135

Should the FYROM government define water management measures in the lake as one of their priorities
for assistance then the Commission would be prepared to consider to what extent the existing financial
instruments could be used to help.

Regardless of any eventual Community assistance, the responsibility for implementing any remedial
measures would remain with the two governments concerned. In this respect the Commission is
encouraged by the declaration ‘for salvation of the Dojran lake as well as for sustainable management and
development of Axios River and the surrounding areas’ made in Athens on 5 July 2002. This is an
encouraging sign that the two parties are prepared to work together to solve this issue in common.

(1) Parliament and Council Directive 2000/60/EC of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action
in the field of water policy, OJ L 327, 22.12.2000.

(2003/C 137 E/154) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2952/02


by Gabriele Stauner (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(22 October 2002)

Subject: Hearing of Pascal Lamy by the Commission’s Anti-Fraud Unit

In its answer to my Written Question E-1771/02 (1), the Commission once again ducked out of giving an
answer to my query as to whether or not minutes were kept of the meeting held on 20 November 1997
between Pascal Lamy and UCLAF officials. During his hearing by the European Parliament in the summer
of 1999 prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Mr Lamy made no reference to that meeting when he
was asked, inter alia, about what is known as the security services affair and called upon to supply a list of
all the meetings that he had held with Commission officials when he was a member of the Board of
Directors of Crédit Lyonnais.

In response to my question about the minutes of that meeting, the Commission simply answered that
OLAF did not have any such minutes. However, that does not necessarily mean that no minutes of that
meeting were kept. As the Commission is aware, when UCLAF became OLAF, a number of sensitive
documents were lost in mysterious circumstances, a situation which apparently also resulted in internal
inquiries being conducted (see my Written Question E-0963/02 (2)).

Accordingly, I am obliged to repeat the questions I asked in my Written Question E-1771/02:


1. Has the Commission checked directly with Commissioner Lamy and with the Commission officials
involved whether or not minutes were kept of the meeting of 20 November 1997?
2. If it has not done so, will the Commission immediately and directly ask Commissioner Lamy and the
officials involved whether or not minutes were kept of that meeting and, where appropriate, what has
become of them?

In its answer to my Written Question E-1771/02, the Commission confirmed its refusal to forward to me
certain documents connected with the security services affair. According to the Commission, current
investigations must not be hampered. At the same time, the Commission informed me that investigations
initiated by order of the Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Office had resulted in the procedure being suspended.
Can the Commission indicate which investigations are still up and running in this instance?

(1) OJ C 309 E, 12.12.2002, p. 159.


(2) OJ C 309 E, 12.12.2002, p. 63.

Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission


(7 January 2003)

1. Yes, the Commission has undertaken to find out whether minutes were kept of the meeting of
20 November 1997.

2. See point 1 above and the answers to the Honourable Member’s Written Questions E-1771/02 (1) and
E-0645/02 (2).