France signs up to destroy untouched nature in Russian Caucasus

Russian environmentalists strongly oppose joint Peak 5642 project
This  week France’s President Nikolas Sarkozy promised  to  help the  Russian  government  in  its project  to  develop  the  North Caucasus  into a string of ski resorts, making it into a “priority direction of the strategic partnership between the two countries.” Russian media reported that France’s investment into the project could amount to $2 billion.

If the project, called Peak 5642 is financed by French companies in  its  current  form,  the money  will  be  used  to fund environmental  destruction  that is illegal by Russian and international norms.

Four of the five of the planned ski resorts that are part of the project  are  located  partially in  strictly  protected  nature reserves,  where any sort of development is prohibited.  Moreover, the resort in the Adygea region, called Lagonaki, is planned  inside the  World  Heritage  Site Western Caucasus, protected  by  UNESCO.

Construction  will breach international norms and  recommendations of  the World Heritage Committee, which said on July 30 2010 that any  infrastructural development inside the site must  be  stopped and    all  plans  for  recreational  development  abandoned

France’s decision to participate in the resort projects in the
North Caucasus will stimulate the Russian government to amend  the existing  legislation  that  protects Russia’s  reserves,  and  to breach UNESCO’s recommendations.

Environmental Watch on North Caucasus and other NGOs in Russia will take all the necessary steps to  halt these  plans  and  seek  help  from their  European  partners  and colleagues  in  the  French and European  parliaments.  Previously, participation  of  French company Vinci in the controversial  road project through Moscow region’s Khimki forest led to a scandal and  continuing  conflict  between  Russia’s  civil  society  and government structures.
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