OT Romania Loses $100M Over Danube

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Romania Loses $100M Over Danube

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- Romania has lost $100 million in revenue and been forced to lay off most of its shipping employees due to the continued blockage of the Danube river, the prime minister was quoted as saying Sunday.

''Clearing the Danube is a matter of extreme importance for Romania,'' Mugur Isarescu was quoted as saying by the private news agency Mediafax.

The river was blocked after NATO destroyed bridges in Novi Sad during its 78-day bombardment of neighboring Yugoslavia that ended in June. Yugoslav authorities have not cleared the debris from the river, which has blocked traffic coming from Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.

Isarescu was quoted in Brussels, where he is to present his country's economic strategy to the European Union. Romania wants to be an EU member. Isarescu likely will ask for financial aid to help clear up two recent chemical spills originating in Romanian mines that left major rivers polluted in Eastern Europe.

Isarescu said shipping agents had lost $100 million and four-fifths of employees in the shipping industry had been laid off due to the river blockage. He said the river crisis also was jeopardizing Romania's chances of privatizing its fleet.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 19, 2000

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