Budapest, 3 July 2006 - "Inland navigation was a deliberate focus of Austria’s EU Presidency," said State Secretary Hans Winkler at the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the first international commission for navigation on the Danube.
In his speech Winkler emphasised the importance of the swift conclusion of the negotiations on the total revision of the Belgrade Convention regarding the Regime of Navigation on the Danube. "A modern and efficient international Danube Commission must be our goal. In view of the changes in the conditions, suitable structures are also required for the development of shipping on the Danube," said the State Secretary. In addition to harmonising the regime on the entire Danube, the mutual recognition of captains’ certificates and licences, and increased efficiency of work methods and decision-making structures of the Danube Commission, it was also necessary to make it possible for the Danube Commission to take binding decisions.
"Only in this way can we help to use the freedom of navigation for the benefit of the economy and the population. It is clear that if there is more shipping on the Danube, not only will the economy benefit but there will also be less heavy traffic on the road and hence less environmental pollution," emphasised Winkler. "Any delay would harm the economies of the countries on the Danube and their populations," continued Winkler.
Winkler was delighted that the Russian Federation was planning to open parts of the river Don and the Volga for foreign inland navigation. "I hope that the entire navigable part of the Don and the Volga will eventually be opened and that other countries will follow suit. 150 years after opening the Danube it is time to create a pan-European network of inland waterways," said Winkler.
The Danube Commission, an intergovernmental organisation with headquarters in Budapest, is responsible for the regime of free navigation on the Danube. The Danube Commission consists of 11 Member States (Bulgaria, Germany, Croatia, Moldova, Austria, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary).
Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Mag. Katharina Swoboda
Cabinet of the State Secretary
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469