Ambassador Samuel Žbogar, his deputy Julian Vassallo and other EU Delegation staff joined an action by the National Association for Solid Waste Management (MASWA) for the cleaning of the Ohrid Lake, supported by local divers and sailors.
This action came after the EU Delegation had launched earlier this year #ZaCistoKakoDomaIsto campaign to support eco-activism all around the country and to encourage everyone to take care of public areas and dispose of garbage with the same diligence and care as they do looking after their homes.
The importance of the action is even greater taking into account that UNESCO recently recommended putting the protected area of Ohrid on its list of endangered world heritage sites, mainly due to excessive and inappropriate construction, but also because of increased pollution and habitat fragmentation. The authorities have a deadline until February to implement corrective measures and preserve the UNESCO status.
'I am encouraged to witness citizens' initiative for clean environment spreading fast across the country', stated Ambassador Žbogar while watching the divers remove litter from the lake from one of the ten sailing boats with the 'EU for YOU' flag that participated in the action.
Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Naser Nuredini was also part of the event. The diving team that cleaned the lake was joined by Ohrid Mayor Konstantin Georgieski and the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation Vassallo who said who said: “As divers we are always told to take nothing but photos and leave only bubbles. But this clean-up by the dedicated local diving community of Ohrid is a useful exception that I was very happy to join, and not for the last time."
The Ohrid Lake is one of Europe's deepest and oldest lakes, with a unique ecosystem of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species. North Macedonia's side of the lake was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, with the site being extended to also include the cultural and historic area of Ohrid in 1980.
Guided by the motto 'We practice what we preach', EU Delegation staff led by Ambassador Žbogar, together with eco-activists, previously partook in actions for the cleaning of Ohrid's old town and, together with employees of the public broadcaster MRTV and TV actors, in the cleaning of the bank of Vardar river in the centre of Skopje.