Danube Commission (1948)

The Danube Commission is concerned with the maintenance and improvement of navigation of the Danube River , from its source in Germany to its outlets in Romania and Ukraine, leading to the Black Sea . It was established in 1948 by seven countries bordering the river, replacing previous commissions that had also included representatives of non-riparian powers. Its predecessor commissions were among the first attempts at internationalizing the police powers of sovereign states for a common cause.

Members include representatives from Austria , Bulgaria , Croatia , Germany , Hungary , Moldova , Slovakia , Romania , Russia , Ukraine , and Serbia .

The commission dates to the Paris Conferences of 1856, which established for the first time an international regime to free navigation on the Danube, and of 1921, which resurrected the international regime after the First World War. [1]


The commission meets regularly twice a year . It also makes groups of experts to consider items provided for in the Commission’s working plans.

Its primary duties are:

  • Supervising the implementation of the international convention that set it up in 1948.
  • Preparing a general plan of the main works for the interest of navigation.
  • Consulting with and making recommendations to the special administrations with various stretches of the river and exchanging information with them.
  • Establishing a uniform system of traffic regulations on the Danube River and the provisions of the Danube River, including those governing the pilot service.
  • Unifying the regulations governing river, customs and sanitary inspection.
  • Harmonizing regulations on inland navigation with the European Union and the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine .
  • Coordinating the activity of hydro-meteorological services on the Danube and publishing short-term and long-term hydrologic forecasts for the river.
  • Collecting statistical data on aspects of navigation on the Danube within the Commission’s jurisdiction.
  • Publishing reference works, sailing directions, nautical charts and atlases for purposes of navigation. [1]


The committee elects from among its members a president, vice-president and secretary for three-year terms. Serving since 2008 are Igor Savolsky of the Russian Federation, Ernő Keskeny of Hungary, and Dmytro Tkach of Ukraine. The commission has a secretariat of 11 international civil servants and 19 employees under the supervision of a director general, who is at present Petar Margić from Croatia.

The official languages ​​of the commission are German, French and Russian.


For predecessors to the present Danube Commission, see Commissions of the Danube River .

As a result of the Danube River Conference of 1948 , the river system was divided into three administrations – the regular River Commission (which had existed in one of 1856), a bilateral Romania-USSR administration between Brăila and the mouth of the Sulina channel, and a bilateral Romania- Yugoslavia administration at the Iron Gate . Both of them were technically under the control of the main commission, members of which were – at the beginning – Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia , Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, the USSR , and Yugoslavia.

The Cominform rift

When the treaty was adopted, Yugoslavia had already been expelled from the Cominform , the political grouping of all the Communist parties in the Soviet bloc . Yet it is still non-Western countries, nearly 200 miles of the Danube flowing through its territory and the only navigable channel through the Iron Gate being on the Yugoslav side of the Romanian border. Nevertheless, when the new commission is organized, the Yugoslavs are offered sixty permanent appointments. The Josip Broz The Tito government refused them all. [3]

The Commission also fixed freight rates which allegedly discriminated against Yugoslavia, Belgrade officials said. Faced with this situation,

the Yugoslav delegate to the commission has been most uncooperative. He has been a minority of one on every major question that has come up for discussion. He opposed, for example, the creation of a special fluvial administration [river administration] run by a joint Czechoslovak-Hungarian Commission to control the difficult Gabcikovo-Gunyu sector …. The Yugoslavs lost by six votes to one. But they have at least got their own back by paying their share of the commission expenses. [4]

Another report, however, stated that it was the commission that had made a specific effort to avoid accepting Yugoslavia ’s share in the expenses, which were even larger than the Yugoslav contribution to the United Nations. [5]

These grievances were compounded by the vast powers wielded by the Soviet Union. At the session of November 11, 1949, the Soviet Union was fully vested powers of appointment, organization, leadership, and negotiation in the secretary, who was the Russian representative. By 1950,

the Soviet government [had] been taken over by the supervisory authority of the Russian Federation. [6]

At the May 1951 meeting, the Yugoslavs walked out, forcing adjournment. They were protesting the „railroading“ of shipping regulations they thought would hurt their economy – a rule forbidding inspection of foreign ships by the nations through which they were passing. The Yugoslavs for sabotage and infiltration by the Soviet agents aboard the ships. In August, Yugoslavia told the USSR that the commission’s rules were „contrary to letter and spirit“ to the 1948 convention, giving the Soviets control of the waterway in violation of national sovereignty.

At the Commission’s fifth session, in June 1952, Yugoslavia proposed the establishment of an executive committee to be composed of one representative of each country; it would be a business control between formal sessions of the commission. The Soviet bloc voted to study the „sometime between the sixth and seventh sessions.“ [7] Next, Yugoslavia proposed that the top posts should be rotated among the six members every three years, but the commission rejected that suggestion in June 1953. Rumors sprang up that Yugoslavia would resign from the commission because of this treatment. [8]

Slowly, though, the picture changed with a thaw in Yugoslav-Soviet relations. On December 15, 1953, Dragoje Djuric , a Yugoslav diplomat, was elected to the secretary’s post, a Hungarian was appointed president and a Bulgarian vice president. [9] In Belgrade Spokesman Said in glee que la sessions Were unusually harmonious Because The Iron Curtain countries Were Agreeing to „all Proposals put on the agenda by the Yugoslavs,“ one of ‚em being white has Yugoslav-Hungarian proposal to move the commission’s headquarters from Galatz to Budapest . [10]

Later, though, the Soviet bloc intimated the downgrading of the Danube Commission. A Vienna dispatch reported that the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , the Eastern European equivalent of the Marshall Plan , had created a new, permanent Danube committee of its own – its purpose for drafting Danube water for power, irrigation, and navigation. It is a meeting place that has been made to be able to raise the level of the river by the seagoing ships could move farther upstream. [11]

East-West relax

After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 the Danube Commission became more political, and multilateral, technical cooperation began to develop, concentrating on three tasks: Improving navigation , developing hydroelectric power , and building a trans-European waterway system. [12] In addition, the commission was used as a test of several innovations in Soviet foreign policy:

  • An attempt to appease and renew relations with Yugoslavia.
  • A switch from bilateral relations within the Soviet bloc, especially in technical areas.
  • A restoration of closer, nonpolitical relations with the West. [13]

Austria gained full membership in December 1959, but a request by West Germany was twice refused (in February 1966 and April 1967.) [14] Germany, however, took part as an observer until it was admitted as a full member in 1999. [ 15]

Construction work on a $ 400 million improvement project at Iron Gates began in 1964, and the two builders, Romania and Yugoslavia, asked the other riparian countries for a $ 95 million contribution. A stormy debate ensued at the 1965 session of the Danube Commission, where most participants turned down the bid. The dispute went before the commission’s arbitration court. [16]

The Danube Commission was seen as a bridge between East and West. Czechoslovak researcher Juraj Cuth wrote in 1960 that the Danube Commission, „has become an important center of all-round cooperation of all the riparian states ….“ [17]

Enlarging the commission

The commission has announced that „the member-states of the Belgrade Convention intend to modernize Commission, by vesting additional powers in it and new functions, as well as to enlarge the circle of its members.“ France, Turkey and the European Union have declared they want to become members. [18]

See also

A series of articles on this subject in chronological order

  • Internationalization of the Danube River , for events of the Treaty of Paris in 1856
  • Commissions of the Danube River , for the international body governing the waterway from 1856 to 1940
  • Nazi rule over the Danube River , for events during World War II
  • Danube River Conference of 1948
  • International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River , for the organization established in 1998 and charged with environmental and ecological activities

References and notes

  2. Jump up^ Media: Donau-Karte.png
  3. Jump up^ New York Times,June 22, 1952, p. 21
  4. Jump up^ „Europe’s International Waterways,“World Today,VII (October 1951), p. 426
  5. Jump up^ New York Times,April 2, 1950, p. 40
  6. Jump up^ New York Times,June 25, 1953, p.11
  7. Jump up^ New York Times,June 5, 1953, p. 6
  8. Jump up^ New York Times,June 25, 1953, p. 11
  9. Jump up^ New York Times,December 16, 1953, p. 8
  10. Jump up^ New York Times,December 17, 1953, p. 8
  11. Jump up^ New York Times,September 2, 1956, p. 26
  12. Jump up^ „Traffic Danube Doubled,“The Times(London), October 13, 1960, cited inCharles Andras, „Neighbors on the Danube,“ Free Radio Research Europe, December 1967
  13. Jump up^ David T. Cattell, „The Politics of the Danube Commission Under Soviet Control,“American Slavic and East European Review,October 1960, Cited inAndras
  14. Jump up^ „But not everyone looks pleased“. The Economist : 569. August 1967.
  15. Jump up^ Deutschland vor Aufnahme in die Donaukommission (in German)
  16. Jump up^ Gogoljub Stojanovic, „The Iron Gate Hydro-power System,“Review of International Affairs(Belgrade), April 20, 1963, cited inAndras
  17. Jump up^ „Medzinarodna Rieka Dunaj,“Mezinarodni Politika,November 1960, cited inAndras
  18. Jump up^ „Commission website“ . Danubecommission.org. 1948-08-18 . Retrieved 2011-12-05 .