Danube Commission at 70: challenges facing Danube shipping

The College of Advanced Studies of Diplomacy in Practice organised our next public event of the semester on Monday 26 November, titled Danube Commission at 70: challenges facing Danube shipping. Our guest, Ambassador Iván Gyurcsík, permanent representative of Hungary in the Commission, spoke to us about the past, present and future of the organisation at the highly informative lecture, where we also received answers for a number of our questions.

In his opening remarks, Mr Gyurcsík referred to the 2,850 km-long Danube as the spine, the high street of Hungary, and especially Budapest, as every Hungarian has some connection to the river, everybody has a nice story about it. Then, in a short historical overview, we got to know the predecessors of the current Danube Commission, the organisations that – all in their own times – intended to secure safe passage on the river. The Belgrade Convention of 1948 then set up the current form of the international organisation, with the headquarters located in Budapest since 1954.

The Ambassador also introduced us to Article 8 of the Belgrade Convention, which specifies the concrete tasks of the Commission. These include the oversight of the Convention’s provisions, performing certain water works and unifying the rules regarding the policing of the river. As the organisation has no direct authority to act, it can only make recommendations to its members.

Currently, the Danube Commission has 11 member states: Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Croatia. They are represented by one ambassador each in the organisation – quite often the country’s respective ambassador to Hungary. The Commission’s official languages are German, Russian and French. The organisation also has working groups and technical staff to help its everyday work. There is also a president, a vice-president and a secretary; these roles are filled by the ambassadors representing their countries.

During the 90-minute session, we got to know the inner workings of an important international organisation that is located in our city, yet most people have never heard of it. We would like to sincerely thank Mr Gyurcsík for his very educational presentation, and also thank everyone who participated at our event. We hope you enjoyed it, and we will have the chance to welcome you at our next open lecture. For more information about our College and to see our upcoming events, follow our Facebook page!

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