Second time in Kosovo & Metohija – “Battle for Gazivode”
Lake Gazivode, my next stop here in the north part of Kosovo & Metohija and the text that will be hit like „Bullseye“, right in the middle because this lake is strategic Bullseye of Kosovo – or just simplly solution for many other strategic games here. This lake is actually very important strategic point for both, Belgrade and Pristina , which is located in the northern part of Kosovo and Metohija, which could determine the future of the Serbian people here in Kosovo. The construction of this artificial lake began in 1972 with the laying down of the cornerstone by Dzemal Bijedic president of Federal Government of Former Yugoslavia and it was completed in 1977 record quickly and with surprise for all the people in view of the speed of pure mountain water that loads this reservoir lake. It was created by damming of the river Ibar. This lake mostly spread its surface throughout the municipality of Tutin and Novi Pazar in western Serbia and through the municipality of Zubin Potok in Serbia southern province of Kosovo & Metohija . Construction of this dam was financed by a loan of the IMF – and value of loan that Yugoslavia was picked up for this purpose amounted to $ 45 million. Construction works were performed by Belgrade based company ” Hidrotehnika” as one of the most famous European companies for the construction of dams and dikes. Length of the lake is 24 km and the width of 12 km ². Damming the river Ibar with dam of 107 m and width of 460 m created a lake of 380 million m³ of water, a lake Gazivode. This dam was built from natural materials (soil, stones and clay) and as such is one of the largest in Europe. Above the lake you can see mountain area „Mokra Gora“ , and also near this you can find monastery of Crna Reka . Although pompous , big and important, lake Gazivode took a “victim” for its construction, and that victim was Serbian people area that was completely decimatedfrom Ibar – Kolasin .How much great was that sacrifice we can hear by the Mayor of Zubin Potok, Slavisa Ristic , who says that at that time only with first autumn 3500 people left their homes, and 12 villages were submerged, four cemeteries and also one under water cultural heritage site of Helen of Anjou from Nemanjic period . In addition to this, a large number of villages remained cut off from the right side of the lake, and eventually they were forced to leave their homes because the project was not the foreseen construction of a bridge between left and right side of this lake. The people who left their homes in the most settled Sumadija and the rest of the Serbs from area of Ibar – Kolasin today mostly living in the part of municipality of Zubin Potok. After these, more or less, statistical and general information about lake Gazivode the question is : why is this lake so important to everyone ?
As situation stands, we can say that water in the future will become what oil is today , if it is not already become… This is the first and general reason why the people and countries should keep and respect its natural resources, and not to sell them for nothing or to left them to be part of political pressure to compromise and give up in negotiations .
The second reason is a practical one and is related to water supply with Gazivode . The water from this lake is used to cool the turbine plant “Obilic” in Pristina, which produces electricity for 80 % of the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. The water from Gazivode also irrigated lowlands of Kosovo. This water from a small dam Pridvorica in the village Velji Breg of Serbian municipality of Zubin Potok takes a long channel of 20 km to the Sipolje in southern part of Mitrovica which is exclusively inhabited by the Albanian population. In that factory water is processed and further distributed to consumers in north and south part of Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvecan, Srbica and Vucitrn. But for reasons known only to Albanians , Serbs in the Northern part of Kosovo and Metohija experience frequent water shortages and restrictions.
Thirdly, water from the lake Gazivode with special channels and pumps, drains to Gracanica lake, near Pristina, where it goes into the system for consumption in this city. About this testifies the fact that during 2011. in the Zupce village was restored channel at the jagged “Ibar – Lepenc” that leading to Pristina. This is important becouse Pristina partly uses water from small lakes Batllava and Badovc but it’s not enough for this city and the rest of Kosovo. Also in favor of the strength of the strategic importance of the lake Gazivodethe Albanians should note the fact that Pristina is the only capital city of some province in Europe that has no river. According to the 2011 census in Pristina there is about 199 000 inhabitants which is very uncertain for future water supply , if we add to this, for Albanians very important foreign missions and missions that are in the city, who also have a problem with pollution some things become much clearer about Gazivode importance.
The fourth reason and not less important are the economic entities in Kosovo. I am primarily referring here to large companies and foreign companies (U.S. and Germany ), which would drive the mines , power plants and other factories whose work is of course in need of water and lot of it , and they have only Gazivode lake that can handle this. Example of mine that has enormous deposits of coal in this case, and also the largest one in Europe, which is important for energy security and strategic terms, the Trepca mine , who can´t function without Gazivode lake. So, to invest their capital in Kosovo * and to ensure quality control and resources Wesley Clark and his company Enviditi must firstly either with diplomacy or pure force to provide uninterrupted water supply entirely in Albanian hands.
The fifth reason is from “corner of a daredevil” and a bit crazy, but should not be excluded from this analysis, is dam demolition at Gazivode in the case of military interventions and serious violations of human rights of Serbs in the north part of province. In the case of dam destruction Kosovo would be razed to the ground all the way to Pristina. The trouble is that this would also demolish North Mitrovica and that would be large sacrifice, but when your life is in danger you never know … Serbs in northern Kosovo still hold the key in their hands. About this idea of a dam demolition, there were some unofficial indications during the NATO bombing in 1999 as this dam was one of the potential targets, but this scenario is fortunately rejected.
During all this time the Government of self proclaimed * Kosovo put lake Gazivode in all of the major energy policy documents that can be found on their website. I’ll give you here one and the most important for me, which you can see HERE. This strategic – energy document worked in collaboration with the World Bank that planned full utilization of Gazivode by the 2035, and on the pages 21 and 22 it can be easily seen that the initial plans to take Gazivode are for the period from 2013 – 2017 year. Also on pages 46 and 47 They considering legal aspects of Kosovo’s recognition and accordingly to this legal arbitration between Serbia and Kosovo * on natural resources.
The U.S. is on the side of the Albanians without saying it loudly, but it’s very interesting how they analyze the question of Gazivode . After my search of all possible documents that are attached to Gazivode lake in English I came across a very comprehensive and interesting dispatch from WikiLeaks from 2007 written by the U.S. Embassy in Pristina. In this generous dispatch which you can see HERE, it is very clear their position on ” the importance of Gazivode” but also it recommends great caution. Except United States for the lake Gazivode is probably not less interested Germany , which after Fukushima shut down all its nuclear reactors. One part of Germany energy sector has provided by well-known „North stream“ and the second part will probably try to search in the Balkans. This is supported by RWE and their interest groups for the upper part of the Drina, and also negotiations with the government of the Republic of Srpska concerning the construction of hydroelectric power plants have indeed failed becaouse of reasons known only to them , but obviously there is interest in here . Shortly after this, the Government of Serbia has signed an agreement with the same German group to build five hydroelectric power plants on the Velika Morava and Drina. If we add to this their presence in the Bulgarian market and aspirations in Croatia all this could be interpreted that the entry of Germany into the energy region of Kosovo is very certain. To add more on this, few days before Kosovo media reported that in the 2015. Their government is going to build a new plant “ Kosova Re“, and we can assume who will be the contractor for this job.
What Serbia is doing ?
Serbia acts like a step-mother and in all that confusion they started talks in Brussels , called Serbs from Kosovo to vote in the illegal elections, sacked “disobedient ” mayors in the northern of Kosovo municipalities and literally pushed own people into something that they naturally can not accept, and no matter how much Aleksandar Vucic held his fingers connected in pose of the “pyramid ” at social events, it surely wont be helpful for Serbs in Kosovo. In this stepmother relations there is a good thing, and that is the construction of the water supply in the northern part of of Kosovo in Gazivode. The foundation stone was laid a one month ago , and the value of the investment exceeds 10 million Euros . This is one news after a long time, that made me happy , and it came from the Government of Serbia and it is related with Kosovo. I hope that this project will be completed in time, and that the water supply will be placed under the control of the Serbs here in Northern part. In order to come to a position in which Serbia is today, someone had to be wrong 100 times, and repeat that mistakes all the way around, again and again…. I think that is finally time to stop mistakes and make at least one good and important step, which is to preserve Gazivode, as they are retreat for the rest of Serbia. You can judge and I hope that I succeed to manage, from reality until the madness the point from the strategic importance of Gazivode to the Serbian people in Kosovo. I see Gazivode as a place where we can not retreat or find some compromise, this lake is surely starting point for ” what once used to be Gazimestan , today seems to be Gazivode …”