by Pylypenko Vadym

On August 27, 2021, the constructive discussions and insightful presentations were held within the Round table focused on “Waterways in Carpathian region” of the MOBI project implemented under the Hungary – Slovakia – Romania – Ukraine ENI CBC Programme 2014-2020.

The event was supported by the International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI” (UA), the Zakarpattia Regional Council (UA), Maramureş County Council (RO) and Satu Mare County Council (RO) and Self-government of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County (HU) with direct participation of the representatives of border regions: Brigitta László, Mihaela Liţe, and Matej Ovčiarka. Thanks to the partner support and cooperation, the event brought an active discussion on these important issues. The Round table was held in an on0-line mode.

Nataliya Nosa, Executive Director of International Association of Regional Development Institutions, Ukraine, opened the event and provided the participants with an overview of the current state of the MOBI project implementation. Currently, most of the project strategically important issues of effective communications in the Carpathian region have been discussed by partners and project experts, discussions were held on different topics, namely obstacles of railway communication, air communication, development of transport corridors and bicycle roads. Nataliya expressed hope that the expert presentations and expert vision will be supported by professional institutions and agencies, authorities and self-governments and will be taken into account when developing the Mobility Plan.

Brigitta László, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Council, Hungary, has welcomed the participants and emphasized that the topic of water connections is of great importance, as all the border countries have a common river, that is Tisza River. For this matter, all the partner-counties should cooperate and solve the problems together.

Mihaela Liţe, Maramureș County Council, Romania, emphasized that it is important that the work of the experts in various field of the Mobility plan is developing. The topic of water connection is important to discuss and include in the Mobility Plan, although in Maramureș there is no water transport. She expressed hope for the success of the Round table and wished luck to everybody.

Matej Ovčiarka, Head of the Regional Development Department, Košice self-governing region, Slovakia, thanked the partners for the invitation to the meeting and expressed his belief that the meetings could be held offline soon. He emphasized that through cooperation it is possible to effectively fulfill all the goals included in the project. Transport connections of the regions involved in the project are an important topic of the project, whether it is road transport, air transport, or water transport. Mr. Ovčiarka stated that the cooperation will bring citizens of all participating regions new opportunities in the field of transport and recreation and that the Kosice self-governing region is opened for the future cross-border cooperation.

Robert Vass, external expert of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Council, Hungary, provided an overview of the Hungary’s waterway network and stated that the two main waterway rivers in Hungary are Danube and Tisza rivers. Mr. Vass focused on the length of county’s navigable waterways and the boat sizes in these waterways. The focus of his attention then fell on the touristic aspect of the river usage and the recreational side. It was said that based on the Eastern Europe model holiday boat tourism was launched in Hungary in 2020 and in addition to excursion boating, there is a canoeing that is a healthy form of environmentally friendly excursion.

Mykola Pigulyak, Head of the department of the city construction and architecture of Zakarpattia Regional State Administration, Ukraine, thanked the organizers for the opportunity to participate in the MOBI project and emphasized on the importance of involvement of government agencies connected with spatial planning in such conferences. Mr. Pigulyak stated that the inland waterway transport in most European transport corridors is a competitive alternative and complement to road and rail transport. However, so far it has not been widely used in Ukraine. European experience shows that in recent decades, river transport has successfully entered new markets, including the transport of sea containers to the interior of the country. Its penetration into the markets of continental general cargo and cabotage transportation is also becoming a new option for solving problems in the field of cargo distribution that meet modern logistics needs. He then gave an insight on the Europe’s inland routes and the shrinkage required for water transport in different parts of Danube River in comparison with the parameters for the river Tisza near the town of Chop, where the depth of shrinkage should be 1.80 m, while the height of the bridge is 5.88 m. The river port in the area of Zahony-Chop is provided by an official document dated from 2006. This port is thought to be a certain starting point of the water transport network of the river Tisza with a length of 630 km, with the navigation period about 280 days a year.

Mr. Pigulyak presented the unofficial developments of young architects regarding the prospects of the Tisza River territories with the expansion of some functionality of the planned port in Chop, and with the possibility of arranging a reservoir in the floodplain of the Latorica river, connected by canals with the Tisza. He concluded that with the formation of new water ports and routes, it is possible to reduce communication between the seas and improve logistics in Europe.

Liudmyla Kozlovska, expert, Ukraine, presented the current situation with the border checkpoints that use water for crossing. Today there is only one checkpoint in Zakarpattia oblast (“Dzvinkove-Lonya”) that connects and uses water for crossing. There is a ferry that allows passengers and cars to cross the Tisza River from Ukraine to Hungary and vice versa. However, the creation of several new ferry crossings, namely “Szatmarcseke-Tiszakorod – Badalovo-Varievo” and “Tiszaszentmarton – Solovka”, was planned under the European Neighborhood Instrument. What concerns water recreational tourism, in Zakarpattia oblast the river Tisa near the checkpoint “Vylok – Tiszabecs” is actively used for canoeing. She also expressed the necessity to improve the development of infrastructure at border checkpoints and for this reason a field meeting of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on European Integration will be held in Zakarpattia Oblast in mid-September.

Henadii Maltsev, Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority, Ukraine, presen, shared the experience of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority in taking part in the Danube Program – project “DIONYSUS”. The project aim is to support the smart and sustainable integration of the Danube into the international transport chains of the European Union-Central and Eastern Europe transport corridors. For Ukraine participation in the project will be the first step in full cooperation with the European Commission to attract further investment in the development of Ukrainian ports on the Danube (the share of cargo flows is about 30% of the total cargo flow in all member states of the Danube Commission). Mr. Maltsev also expressed the readiness of Ukraine to participate in joint EU projects, that in future may provide development to some regions of Odessa and other regions.

Reinhold Stadler, expert of the Maramureș County Council, Romania, presented the waterway system of Romania. Waterways in Romania are mostly concentrated in the south, mainly along the Danube. Currently the priority at the national level is given to the development of waterways connection on Danube river, whereas Tisza River is not widely used for navigation. Nonetheless, Mr. Stadler stated that Tisza River is essential for the wellbeing of the economy both of Romania and Ukraine, there is a potential to navigate the river for touristic purposes, and the river may also be used even for cycling infrastructure.

Barbara Kovacheva, Košice self-governing region, Slovakia, noted that Košice self-governing region did not have direct competences in water management and ground waters, natural healing water resources and watercourses are only managed by Slovak Republic. Barbara presented the legislative of water management in Slovakia Ministry that is responsible for determining the concept of the development of inland navigation, ports and waterways, ensuring the development and modernization of waterways in accordance with the approved transport policy, representing the Slovak Republic in matters of inland navigation in relations with international organizations operating in the field of inland navigation. She stated that Košice self-governing region is trying to develop the region, being in direct communication with Slovak Water management enterprise. Košice self-governing region has developed a strategic document, the Skeletal Network of Bicycle Roads, the vast majority of which run in watercourse corridors.

In conclusions session, Nataliya Nosa, Executive Director of International Association of Regional Development Institutions, Ukraine, thanked to all speakers of the Round table for their professional presentations of great informative value and emphasized the strategic importance of their expert opinions. The “Tisza River Port” project is a strategically important and feasible project, aimed at establishing a shipping company for the implementation of international cargo transportations, which provides for the construction and commissioning of the river port on the right bank of the Tisza River. Based on the above mentioned it is necessary to create working group on “Waterways in the Carpathian region” with the participation of Hungarian, Ukrainian, Slovakian and Romanian representatives. Further meetings and discussion of the topic of “Water connections” within the “MOBI” project will be held on the 11-12 of October 2021 within the thematic workshop in Hungary. Next (and the last) Round Table “Border infrastructure” planned to be held on the 4th of October 2021, on-line.

Press-centre of the Association IARDI

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