15 August 2013

Macedonia's way to the Danube

Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) received an observer status in the Danube Commission (DC) in December 2013 on the commissions’ 79. session. The DC was formed in 1948, Beograd and their aim is to help river navigation. Until 1998 only those countries were members which had direct access to the river. Although Macedonia’s membership is less surprising than France, or Cyprus, but it still needs to be explained. Instead of analyzing the economic benefits of the status let us find the geographical link between Macedonia and the Danube.

The relief of Macedonia

Macedonia declared its independence and secession from Yugoslavia in 8 September 1991. Until this time it was one of the republics forming Yugoslavia. From all of the republics Macedonia was the least “Danubian” former state. Due to the disintegration of the Soviet Empire many territorial rearrangements followed. A number of new states arose in the 817000 square kilometers Danube catchment area. In 1989 there were only 8 Danubian states: Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union. With the disintegration of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union three states fell out, but instead 5 other countries joined: Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine. So there are currently 10 countries along the Danube. 

Macedonian river basin districts
In terms of territorial changes regarding the whole Danubian catchment area are even greater. In 1989 only 12 countries shared this area: Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union, Albania, Italy, Switzerland, and Poland. The last four countries have only a tiny area connecting them to the Black Sea through the Danube. After the quasi-independence of Kosovo in 2008 the number of these states became 20 (new countries with bold letters): Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia.

However out of the 20 listed countries there is only one which lies 100% on Danube’s catchment area. Do you know which country is this? But there are several countries with only a fragment of the catchment area, which means only several headwaters or creeks. Like the Black Orawa in Poland, the Drava in Italy and the Inn in Switzerland. And suvh creeks are the headwaters of South Morava in Macedonia.
Skopska Crna Gora, The Black Mountains of Skopje (trekearth.com)

Authorities has drawn a very strange border between Kosovo and Macedonia in the Black Mountains of Skopje (Skopska Crna Gora, Скопска Црна Гора, Turkish: Kara Dagh). Maybe it was unintentional to leave a little piece of the Danube catchment area for the young Yugoslavian Republic. The mountain received its name from blackish precambrian slate and gneiss, its highest point is called Ramno (1651 m). Skopska Crna Gora is the western part of the Serb-Macedonian Massif (the former Serb-Thracian Massif) Seismically it is a very active region, in the past many great earthquakes devastated the area. In 1963, 80% of Skopje was destroyed by a 6,1 earthquake. The Black Monuntain is a watershed. Streams from the northwestern slopes are flowing towards the Black Sea, while the southeastern streams are parts of the Vardar river and so the Aegean Sea catchment area. The Danube catchment area is made up from three separate parts forming Macedonia's navel-string towards the Danube basin and the Danube Commission. All in all it is only 37 square kilometers, 0,045% ot the total area.

Three separated valleys of the Macedonian Danube catchment area

Because this is a very tiny area, there are mostly incomplete, unverifiable and multiple cited information on this matter. According to the English Wikipedia: Streams of Ključevska reka and Slatinska reka join together to form the river Golema, which is, after passing the Macedonian-Serbian border, known as Binačka Morava (Биначка Морава). (I found no trace of these rivers on no map, so it would be only guessing which stream is which. Five different streams leave the Macedonian territory, shown above.)

This small river then passes through the south-eastern part of Kosovo, cuts through between Skopska Crna Gora and Plajčkovica (Пљачковица) mountains. After 49 kilometers it picks up the river Preševska Moravica, from this confluence the river changes its name once more: Southern-Morava (Južna Morava, Јужна Морава).

The Souh Morava just north from Vranje (Врање), (image: Небојша, panoramio.com)
Next to the town of Stalać Southern Morava picks up the Western-Morava and from now on it is called Great-Morava. It flows into the Danube by the former capital of ancient Moesia province, Viminacium (today Kostolac) carrying 270 cubic meters of water/second.

The western valleys from northern direction
Out of the three separate “Danubian” territories of Macedonia the western is the largest. There you can find the one and only settlement: Tanushevci (Albanian: Tanushë). It has 417 inhabitants, all of them are ethnically Albanians. The nearby peak Kodra Fura is the highest point of the dividing range, 1492 m. Not long ago Albanians and Macedonians were fighting for this area. The first Albanian infiltration took place here in 2001, three Macedonian soldiers were shot dead. Albaninas from Kosovo wanted to escalate the war on the neighboring Macedonia to join the ethnic Albanian territories together. Their claims for the Kodra Fura were merely hydrogeographical.

Locals bred sheep on the pastures situated mostly on the ranges, surrounded by draught-resistant light forests in the valleys. Due to the steep slopes local traffic is also goes on the flat ridge’s dirt roads. Interestingly the locals call themselves Crna Gorans, which refers not to the country (Crna Gora, Montenegro), but the mountains. In these sparsely populated mountains Macedonians speak a separate crna goran dialect.

The middle region from the north

The smallest valley from the north

Macedonia may be connected through these three tiny valleys into the work of the Danube Commission. In this way they may be able to break out of the isolation caused by the landlocked situation and bad relations with Greece.

No comments:

Post a Comment