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Ohrid Lake region avoids UNESCO 'in danger' list

Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid

The Lake Ohrid region, shared by North Macedonia and Albania, avoided being listed as an endangered world heritage site by UN's culture agency UNESCO on Sunday, despite concerns about urbanisation and pollution.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee gave the two Balkan nations two more years to implement recommendations to improve the region's conservation and welcomed efforts undertaken so far.

Albania and North Macedonia should by February 2023 submit a report on the "state of conservation of the property" as well as on the progress of implementation of UNESCO's earlier recommendations, the committee said.

The Ohrid lake and its surroundings have been on the world heritage site list for years due to their unique animal and plant life, prehistoric ruins and Byzantine churches.

The UN's cultural agency first added the Macedonian side of the lake to its world heritage list in 1979, expanding the entry to include the Albanian side four decades later.

But, UNESCO has said earlier that it would reclassify the Lake Ohrid region status due to "inappropriate conservation, reconstruction and development" as well as "conflicting priorities" in its management system.

Local environmental activists have been for years warning over the issue and sought the site be added on UNESCO's 'in danger' list.

The NGO Ohrid SOS slammed UNESCO's decision on Sunday, saying that a similar one was reached two years ago, which led to "two more years of concrete onto the Lake Ohrid's coast and two more years of filth into its waters".

"In 2021, you have in all likelihood decided for the same," they said in a statement read to the World Heritage Committee by their representative. — AFP

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