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Concept for the complex development of Pruth River

An integrating project along the EU and NATO Eastern flank

 

In the past, Pruth River made the object of several development projects and initiatives. Whether the focus was placed on its hydropower potential or the economic benefits that would result from its development as a navigable route, Pruth River was always in the attention of political stakeholders and decision-makers in the three riparian countries: Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.

 

The concept proposed by Ekkou VP in 2015 is based on a wider ambition. It incorporates previously considered development coordinates but adds new dimensions for consideration. Their combined effect generates a real potential for a wide range of economic benefits for local communities and riparian countries, as well as exert a positive impact on the EU geopolitical agenda for the region and on its political and economic relations with Ukraine and Moldova.

 

Pruth River enjoys a strategic geographical position, its relevance exceeding the national interests of riparian countries. This was obvious ever since 1926, when diplomatic and politic efforts were made by Romania and Poland to open a fruitful dialogue on opening a new waterway between the Black Sea and Baltic Sea by connecting the Pruth, Dniester, San and Vistula rivers. Even though subsequent political developments prevented further discussion on the project, Pruth River has lately received new diplomatic coordinates as EU and NATO border. The concept for the complex development of Pruth River is aimed not only at establishing an integrated approach to economic and social opportunities, but also at ways to support the political aspirations of riparian countries to consolidate ties with the European Union and NATO, to confirm and support the importance of a North-South transport corridor.

 

In terms of hydropower potential, the total estimated power of projects proposed in this concept is around 120 MW, which is a much-needed breath of fresh air for Moldova, a candidate state for European Union integration who imports 80% of its energy requirement. The navigable development of Pruth River also provides an alternative, more cost-effective exit to the Black Sea and a cheaper alternative to rail and road transport, especially since all of Romania’s existing waterways are concentrated in the south.  The construction of new bridges across the river would strengthen commercial ties between the three riparian states (e.g. over 20 bridges tied Romania and Moldova back in 1940, but only 9 survived to this date). Previous studies outlined the possibility of thousands of new enterprises being created as a direct result of this project.

 

The development of irrigation networks and secure water supply for communities along the river, as well as the implementation of flood protection systems are also some of the main coordinates to be considered by this initiative. The renowned agricultural potential of the region must be developed further through new irrigation systems, while civil engineering works could prevent natural disasters such as those that took place in 2010, when two villages in the Republic of Moldova were almost erased from the map by a flash floods. Romanian officials estimated the Pruth River flooding area at 104,750 ha, with potential impact on 72 villages amounting to 125,000 inhabitants.

The political impact of this project would be tremendous, as it would improve interconnection and bilateral relations of Ukraine and Moldova with Romania and thus with the European Union, receiving support on their path to European integration and the adoption of democratic values and principles towards a common future despite the complicated regional context fraught with challenges.

 

Aside from the economic and political benefits of the project, which more than justify the complex development of Pruth River, the current context poses a unique historic opportunity which begs consideration and acknowledgment.

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