Romanian Ship Owners Block Danube : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Romanian Ship Owners Block Danube The Associated Press, Fri 8 Sep 2000 Email this story to a friend Print this story CALARASI, Romania (AP)  Romanian shippers blocked the Danube on Friday to protest Yugoslav authorities' failure to unclog the river for navigation following NATO bombing of bridges last year.

Romania's shippers union placed 15 barges across the river at Clarasi, 60 miles southeast of Bucharest, blocking commercial navigation on that stretch of the river.

During 78 days of NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia last year, three bridges over the Danube at the city of Novi Sad were destroyed and the debris is blocking traffic coming from Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.

Yugoslavia has also declined to temporarily remove a pontoon bridge in Novi Sad to clear the way for ships. The pontoon replaces bridges wrecked by NATO bombs.

``The Yugoslav government is violating international law by obstructing navigation at Novi Sad,'' shippers union spokesman Barbu Chirita said. There was no immediate comment on how long the protest would be.

The European Union has authorized up to $19.2 million to pay for clearing the Danube. The proposal does not include reconstruction of the bridges, but only the opening of a navigable channel.

``Although Yugoslav authorities have started clearing away the debris of the destroyed bridges, ship movement along the full length of the river could not be resumed earlier than next year,'' Helmut Strasser, who heads the Danube Commission of countries bordering the river, said Tuesday during a visit to Bucharest.

Romanian shippers have laid off more than 3,500 employees and suffered losses of $150 million since the bombing campaign, according to figures released by local shipping officials.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 08, 2000

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