Danube Watch 1/2021 - ICPDR Presidency 2021


ICPDR Presidency 2021

a man wearing a suit and tie

The ICPDR's President for 2021, from Montenegro: Momčilo Blagojević

On the 26th of January 2021, Montenegro took over the annual Presidency of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River. Incoming President Momčilo Blagojević described the bold aims for his forthcoming term at the presidency-handover event that was held online this year. Among these were finalizing the Danube River Basin and Flood Risk Management Plan Updates, emphasizing the public consultation process which supports both plan updates, plus focusing on strengthening Montenegro’s involvement in ICPDR expert and task groups.

Another aim of ICPDR President Blagojević has been to lead the development of the Ministerial Declaration endorsing the updated management plans, due to be presented at the beginning of the Romanian presidency in February 2022. Overall, Montenegro’s presidency will mark a special era of cooperation throughout the Danube River Basin, fuelled by the lessons learned in 2020 and 2021 during the global pandemic, which has required, and continues to require, special measures at all levels of management throughout the Basin.

Held both in-person in Vienna and over video conferencing, the presidency transfer event saw representatives from the Montenegrin and Moldovan missions in Austria handing over a bottle of Danube water on behalf of the respective incoming and outgoing Presidents, as is the tradition. Passed to every single ICPDR president since the mid-1990s, the bottle symbolises the way in which the President of the ICPDR holds the future of the basin’s waters in their hands.

Unable to attend, due to the ongoing pandemic, incoming President Blagojević spoke remotely at the event. “It is strange to be taking over the ICPDR Presidency during the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when all Contracting Parties to our Convention are struggling with different sets of restrictions and economic hardships. While Montenegro is a smaller member of the Danube family, it is a strong country, and we see this Presidency as an opportunity to expand the role of Montenegro and engage more fully in the work of the ICPDR’s Expert Groups”. The President also emphasised a new focus on Montenegrin efforts regarding the operation of the Trans-National Monitoring Network, flood protection efforts and the ICPDR’s Accident Emergency Warning System (AEWS).

a large body of water with a mountain in the background Previously having long served as Montenegro’s head of delegation to the ICPDR, Momčilo Blagojević is acutely aware of the commission’s achievements and acknowledged its ongoing success. “The ICPDR remains a beacon of international river basin management and a champion of transboundary cooperation”, said President Blagojević.

Outgoing President Dorin Andros from Moldova, received warm acknowledgements at the event for his successful tenure as ICPDR President, steering the commission through unprecedented times in 2020. Mr. Andros bestowed his best wishes upon his successor and extended his deepest gratitude to his team for all their hard work throughout his presidency.

To be certain, the work to be done in 2021 has not been easy, either in terms of the looming issues which President Blagojević hopes to tackle, or in accomplishing the work during the continued Covid-19 pandemic. However, with his expressed clear vision and dedication, there is little doubt that Mr. Blagojević will build upon the success of past ICPDR presidents, and will continue to steer the ICPDR into the future of Danube protection.