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The nature of state transborder reterritorialization in the lower Danube Lands.

1. Introduction

Linnerooth-Bayer and Murcott state that the Danube River provides a valuable resource for many competing uses. Popescu focuses on the Lower Danube Euroregion created across the borders of Romania, Ukraine, and Moldova in a region situated at the "periphery" of these three states. The EU today indirectly hinders development in the Lower Danube Euroregion: the EU required Romania to introduce stricter control of its eastern borders which has disrupted cross-border cooperation in the Lower Danube Euroregion. Ebert et al. assert that conversion of the Danube river floodplains through dyke construction for farming and other development has cut off 95, 75 and 28% of the floodplains of the upper Danube, the lower Danube and the Danube delta, respectively.

2. Environmentally Sustainable Development of the Danube River Basin

Linnerooth-Bayer and Murcott note that upheaval and change characterize the political and economic landscape of the Danube River basin, and discuss the legal and institutional developments leading to a post-Soviet regime for managing the Danube River and promoting sustainable development in the basin. The intensive urban, agricultural and industrial uses of the Danube are decreasing the region's biodiversity and posing risks to the health of the basin ecosystems. Cooperation on improving the water quality of the Danube has been hampered by the asymmetries between the upstream and downstream countries. Few possibilities exist for trading off downstream advantages for upstream favors. The health of the Danube River mirrors the health of the overall environment of the Danubian countries. Linnerooth-Bayer and Murcott identify two parallel trends for building a powerful institutional base for promoting environmentally sustainable development of the basin: (i) a reconstruction of the present Danube Commission with its more Eastern European roots and focus, and (ii) a movement towards Western Europe with an institutional capacity closely linked to the European Union. The sustainable development of the region should transcend the region's existing nationalistic and ethnic conflicts. (1)

Linnerooth says that great attention should be paid to making informed tradeoffs on the river's conflicting uses. The most likely mechanism for achieving collaboration appears to be through mainly bilateral agreements. A balanced management of the Danube river can be achieved only through cooperation among the eight riparian countries. The geography of the Danube has presented arduous obstacles to navigation. The international importance of the Danube may radically change with the completion of the Rhine-Maine-Danube canal. The more prosperous upper riparian countries depend on the Danube for industrial and waste disposal purposes. Linnerooth argues that some compensating advantage or incentive to the upper riparian states is a prerequisite for cooperation. The asymmetrical interests regarding the need for less-polluted Danube water are confounded by the asymmetry of the resources available for pollution control. Water quality definitions and measurements develop dynamically to reflect their evolving purposes. Perceptions of the urgency of environmental protection vary widely across Danube riparians. The national governments are stepping up efforts to harmonize water quality definitions with neighboring riparian countries. The Danube has a good capacity for self purification with respect to biodegradable pollutants. (2)

3. The Role of the Lower Danube Euroregion in Transborder Reterritorialization

Popescu shows how state transborder reterritorialization is unfolding in the Lower Danube region. Popescu explores the East European historical and geo-political context of border institutionalization of the Lower Danube region that spans the borders of Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. The term Lower Danube region/space refers to the entire geographical area occupied today by Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and parts of Bulgaria. Popescu provides an understanding of the specific conditions underlying the processes of population and political institutionalization of the territories surrounding the mouths of the Danube River. Popescu examines the context in which transborder cooperation currently takes place among the countries situated in the Lower Danube region. Multi-scalar forces intertwine to produce the geopolitics of Euroregions in the Lower Danube space. The contemporary phase is profoundly influenced by factors that are external to the lower Danube region. Romania's desire to obtain EU membership represented an opportunity for the EU to provide stability to the lower Danube region. The establishment of Euroregions in the lower Danube space was influenced by the historical and geographical context of the region. An examination of the LDE's activity shows its contribution to transborder integration in the Lower Danube space. The presence of the Danube Delta on the territory of the LDE is an incentive for transborder environmental cooperation. The LDE has the potential to provide stability and promote development in the region surrounding the mouths of the Danube River (it has had a series of accomplishments that created a framework for institutionalized transborder cooperation in the Lower Danube space). Popescu analyzes the process of transborder state reterritorialization in Eastern Europe as embodied in the Lower Danube Euroregion. The lower Danube space has experienced much more intense political turmoil recently. On Popescu's reading, there is a series of arguments in favor of achieving transborder integration in the lower Danube borderlands: (i) a common Romanian ethnic basis is present in all three national borderlands; (ii) there is a sense of shared history in the LDE space; and (iii) the lower Danube space has an economic potential that can be cooperatively exploited in order to further development in the borderlands. The economic potential of the lower Danube space can deter transborder integration. Territory and territoriality are at the core of the geopolitics of reterritorialization of the lower Danube space. Bridge connections over the Danube River can boost economic transborder integration in the LDE. The spatial context of the lower Danube space offers opportunities for the LDE to evolve into an integrated transborder space for social life. (3)

4. Landscape Change and Archaeological Settlements in the Lower Danube Countries

Van Assche et al. explicate the interwoven construction of boundaries, identities and marginalities in the Romanian Danube Delta, and reconstruct the histories of marginality and centrality for the Danube Delta and surrounding areas (Northern Dobrogea). (4) Curta looks at the Danube limes as a complex interface: understanding transformation on the Danube frontier requires understanding of everything happening both north and south of that frontier. (5) Smyntyna notes that colonization of Ukrainian part of Lower Danube began in the interval 7.5-7.0 ka BP, when the regional landscape was mesophilous meadow steppe: forest plots with small percentages of deciduous vegetation were present in river valleys, temporary estuaries, and on ridges; the faunal complex was dominated by aurochs, red deer, and wild boar; high biomass density, combined with the fact that the region had not been intensively explored previously, allowed relatively stable forms of human adaptation. On Smyntyna's reading, the beginning of auroch domestication is conceptualized not so much as an adaptive response to subsistence source base shortage, but rather as a phenomenon caused, together with joint exploitation of the same settlement area, by resource spatial distribution. (6)

Ebert et al. contend that along the lower Danube River, restoration of floodplains by decommissioning under-performing flood protection infrastructure has provided many benefits: improved natural capacity to retain and release floodwaters and remove pollutants, enhanced biodiversity, and strengthened local economies through diversification of livelihoods based on natural resources. Ebert et al. say that the drivers for more successful adaptation measures in the Danube include EU expansion, legal mechanisms, and local desire to improve livelihoods (a powerful driver of policy change in the lower Danube countries has been the support of non-governmental organizations for basin- and regional-level planning for more effective water resource management). (7) Breiling writes that the Danube basin lies in a favourable climate zone. There are several and diverse ways of using and managing land and water in the Danube river basin. The Danube river basin can be understood as a mosaic of different landscapes on the smaller scales. Breiling considers an intermediate scale between sub-river basins and communities as necessary to ensure a certain level of consistency throughout the Danube region. (8)

Carozza et al. put it that palaeogeographic changes of the North Black Sea area during Early to Middle Holocene is of crucial interest in the understanding of the spread of the Neolithic to Central and Western Europe, and a good method to develop a framework for Preand Proto-historic societal adaptation to environmental changes. Carozza et al. describe Black Sea coastal geomorphological changes associated with sea level rise, delta progradation and delta lobe shifts modifying the living conditions and habitability in the Danube delta during Neolithic to Chalcolithic time. An archaeological and palaeo- environmental chronological framework allows comparison between environmental and social data. Carozza et al. emphasize that the Neolithic to Chalcolithic transition shows rapid adaptation to geographical conditions: the Early Neolithic gap in the Dobroudja is potentially the result of a taphonomic bias related to coastal position change in a context of a rapid flooding event. (9)

5. Conclusions

Linnerooth-Bayer and Murcott remark that the Danube River and its tributaries combine to make up a unique aquatic ecosystem. Popescu analyzes the establishment and subsequent functioning of the Lower Danube Euroregion and its multiscalar impact on state transborder reterritorialization in Eastern Europe, focusing on the particular actions and processes that are taking place in the Lower Danube Euroregion and their connection with larger processes of European integration. Ebert et al. posit that anthropogenic climate change will bring more frequent flooding and reduced water quality.


(1.) Linnerooth-Bayer, J. and Murcott, S. (1996), "The Danube River Basin: International Cooperation or Sustainable Development," Natural Resources Journal 36: 521-547.

(2.) Linnerooth-Bayer, J. (1990), "The Danube River Basin: Negotiating Settlements to Transboundary Environmental Issues," Natural Resources Journal 30: 629-660.

(3.) Popescu, G. (2006), Transborder State Reterritorialization in Eastern Europe: The Lower Danube Euroregion. PhD diss, Florida State University.

(4.) Van Assche, K. et al. (2008), "Liquid Boundaries in Marginal Marshes: Reconstructions of Identity in the Romanian Danube Delta," Studia Universitatis Babe?-Bolyai/Sociologia LIII(1): 115-133.

(5.) Curta, F. (2001), The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500-700. New York: Cambridge University Press.

(6.) Smyntyna, O.V. (2007), "Late Mesolithic of the Ukrainian Part of the Lower Danube Region: New Perspectives of Human Adaptation and Interpretation of Natural Environments," Quaternary International 167-168: 114-120.

(7.) Ebert, S. et al. (2009), "Floodplain Restoration along the Lower Danube: A Climate Change Adaptation Case Study," Climate and Development 1(3): 212-219.

(8.) Breiling, M. (2002), "Reconsidering Landscape and Water in the Danube Region: Challenges for More Sustainability," in Breceanu, G. and Stiuca, R. (eds.), Proceedings of 34th IAD Conference, Tulcea.

(9.) Carozza, J.-M. et al. (2010), "Landscape Change and Archaeological Settlements in the Lower Danube Valley and Delta from Early Neolithic to Chalcolithic Time: A Review," Quaternary International 225(1). Forthcoming


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Author:Costachie, Silviu; Soare, Ionica; Dieaconu, Daniel
Publication:Geopolitics, History, and International Relations
Article Type:Report
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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