The Civic Alliance for the Protection of the Vlora Bay, a local Albanian initiative group, continued on Sunday to press for a referendum on an oil deposit and a thermo-power plant being constructed north of the town of Vlora on Albania’s Adriatic coast.
The group’s latest rally on Sunday picked up from the major protest on January 18 this year when representatives from the World Bank Inspection Panel visited Vlora to investigate allegations regarding the harmful impacts of the thermo-power plant the World Bank is financing together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank.
With a symbolic act of “planting the trees of life instead of oil of the dead”, the protestors intended to plant new trees at the 183,000 square metre hydrocarbons storage site being promoted by Petrolífera Italo-Rumena.
The rally was confronted by police squads that prevented it from entering the site. Continuing in front of the construction site, the citizens repeated their request for a local referendum on the oil terminal.
A referendum was turned down by the National Election Committee in October 2007 on procedural grounds. The Civic Alliance representatives called on the Albanian President to carry out his constitutional duty, protect citizens’ right to participate and allow a local referendum on oil and energy development in the tourist zone of Vlora just as in the Bulgarian harbour of Bourgas where local people participated in a referendum on the Bourgas-Alexandropoulis oil pipeline.
Vlora is also being seriously talked of as an Adriatic outpost for the AMBO pipeline which is planned to bring oil from Bourgas via Macedonia. In his rally speech, the well-known Albanian publicist Ardian Klosi called on the mayor and the city council to support the Vlora citizens in their efforts to stop the oil projects in Vlora Bay and to promote tourist development in the city by constructing a yachting harbour instead of hydrocarbons storage at the beach.
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