The Danube
Danube and Europe
Living Force

It is with joy that I convey to you the results of the voyage from Passau to the Black Sea of the Symposium held under our joint patronage.

It will of course take some months to record and analyse the myriad lessons we have learned in these days, but I felt it right to send you immediately this summary of our activities, an indication of future actions which our experiences provoke and, most urgently, some policy conclusions which have become vividly apparent to us.

The Danube truly is a River of Life. Life with all its richness, with its darkness and its light. We have seen both suffering and hope reflected in the waters of this river. The impact of mankind' s greed and ignorance is manifest in the pollution, the pain and the poverty which we have witnessed. We held our plenary sessions in the great buildings of the region built to celebrate man' s scientific dominion over nature, and yet we have sailed past dams which are silting up and nuclear power stations that are either closed or dangerous. We have witnessed the richness of nature, the charm, energy and faith of the people amidst the rusting refuse of a thousand ill-conceived industrial plants lying idle or condemned.

Now that there is a real prospect of all the Danubian nations forming part of a completed European Union, this river, for so long a boundary, could and must become an artery, a lifeline, a fragile symbol of hope for the eighty million people on its banks. We recommend that an early effort be made to increase a common awareness of the Danube amongst its people. We hope that you in the European Union will give organisational shape to the aspirations of those individuals and non-governmental organisations who think of themselves as citizens of the Danube and of Europe. This International Waterway is on its way to becoming also a Pan-European Waterway, where ideas and people flow through porous borders, rather than being constrained within the archaic rigidities of

His Excellency Mr Romano Prodi
President of the European Commission

purely national structures. We believe that this region of Europe should celebrate itself in prayer and in planting, in postage stamps and in pilgrimages. Celebrate itself above all in a joint and joyous crusade to reverse the damage done to the natural fabric of this beautiful quadrant of our continent.

The problems and the possibilities were most clear in our travel across Serbia. We were pleased to take part in a service of reconciliation on the banks of the Danube in Novi-Sad, which was attended by the spiritual leaders of all the faiths in Yugoslavia. After discussions with the scientists, environmentalists and authorities of the river we reach the following conclusions, which we offer for your urgent consideration.

We believe that the European Union should take the lead in following up Pekka Haavisto' s excellent report from the Balkan Task Force. We recommend that the Union assists in the clearance from the Danube of the wreckage of the bridges at Novi-Sad. We further believe that the Union should construct a high-level "Europe bridge" to allow the removal of the existing pontoon bridge which while essential for the life of the people of Novi-Sad, blocks the river to traffic. Thirdly we conclude that the Union should give early attention to implementing the conclusions of the BTF report on the continuing leakage of poisons into the river at Pancevo. The Union has a responsibility to the health of all the peoples of the river that should rightly be regarded as humanitarian rather than structural aid.

The freeing of this great European river has important practical and financial consequences for all the Europeans who live on its banks, but most significantly for the peoples of Romania and Bulgaria.

We look forward with warm anticipation to our meeting with you in the near future, and pray on behalf of all the participants in this Symposium that you will use the power of the Union to take these first steps to set this great river free.

At the Danube Delta, October 25, 1999

Your Excellency' s
Fervent supplicant before God,

+Bartholomew of Constantinople