Press Release Regarding the Danube Commission No: 66 - April 6, 2001

Turkey's application to become an observer to the Danube Commission was approved during the 59th Assembly meeting of the Commission which was held on 2 April 2001. Turkey's observer status is considered as a first step in the realization of its final goal to become a full member to the Commission.

The Danube Commission, headquartered in Budapest, is responsible for the implementation of the "Convention for Navigation in Danube River" which was signed in Belgrade in 1948 in order to define the status of the river. Members of the Commission are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Federal Republic of Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Although not situated on the banks of the Danube, Turkey is in a region that is highly affected by the river environmentally and economically. Following the opening of the Main-Danube Channel in 1992, the Turkish Straits have become the only route linking this waterway which crosses Europe and ends in the Black Sea Basin, to the Mediterranean Sea. The Danube and the Black Sea Basins not only constitute a continuing waterway in terms of navigation but are also connected to each other from an economic cooperation point of view.

Observer status to the Commission will allow Turkey to closely follow the proceedings of the Commission as well as to contribute to its activities. The observer status of Turkey is also an indication that Turkey attributes great importance to regional cooperation in the Balkans and in Central Europe.