In Albania, the “last natural delta in Europe” threatened by the projects of Donald Trump’s son-in-law

The delta of the Vjosa river near the village of Kute in the Mallakaster region (Albania), June 30, 2016. GENT SHKULLAKU / AFP

Dalmatian pelicans, loggerhead sea turtles, crystal clear water: Albania’s Adriatic coast is one of the last untouched areas of the Mediterranean Sea. A virgin area which interests investors, such as Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump and son-in-law of the former American president and Republican candidate for the next presidential election, Donald Trump. Its investment project was announced by the New York Timesthen confirmed on social network X by the person concerned.

For an amount of 1 billion dollars (924 million euros), Jared Kushner plans to create luxury hotels, villas and apartments in Serbia and Albania, in currently unknown timeframes, through its investment company Affinity Partners.

The Albanian maritime coast, sometimes nicknamed the “Maldives of Europe” by certain tour operators, is the scene of a real tourist boom. In 2023, Albania recorded the fourth largest increase in international tourist arrivals, a growth of 56% compared to 2019, according to the World Tourism Organization.

“Migration route”

The area affected by the former White House advisor’s projects is the delta of the Vjosa River, in the south of the country, at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea. This watercourse is considered to be “the most intact large river delta in Europeunderlines Gilles Pinay, research director at the CNRS. The Vjosa is one of the last natural rivers on the continent. Among Jared Kushner’s projects is the construction, on the island of Sazan, nestled in the Karaburun-Sazan National Park, recognized for its ecological importance and biodiversity since 2010, of a luxury hotel complex from the Swiss brand Aman Resorts.

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Right next door, the Zvërnec peninsula, theoretically protected, is also coveted by Donald Trump’s son-in-law. “It is an integral part of the Vjosa ecosystem”, specifies Gabriel Schwaderer, director of the EuroNatur organization. The Narta Lagoon, in the heart of the delta, is a key breeding and feeding ground for southeast Europe’s most iconic waterbirds, including the Dalmatian Pelican, as well as Greater Flamingos and the spatulas. This lagoon is one of the most important resting areas on the “Adriatic migration route” that many birds take to reach North Africa.

A small port on the island of Sazan, Albania, in April 2015.

A small port on the island of Sazan, Albania, in April 2015.

A small port on the island of Sazan, Albania, in April 2015. HEKTOR PUSTINA / AP

“As Europeans, is there anything we don’t want to destroy? »worries Ulrich Eichelmann, director of the Riverwatch organization. The ecologist, who visited the site, describes the turtles, dunes and pink flamingos that inhabit this area of ​​the Mediterranean coast. “There has been very little human activity around this river. This is an exceptional case”explains researcher Gilles Pinay.

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