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Greece inks rail link agreement with Bulgaria

04 September 17 - RE+D Magazine
Greece inks rail link agreement with Bulgaria

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Antulio Richetta

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The agreement with Bulgaria for a rail link between Bulgaria's three ports - Ruse on the Danube River, and Varna and Burgas on the Black Sea - with three seaports in northern Greece (Alexandroupolis, Kavala and Thessaloniki) was more than just another large project improving Greece's transport infrastructure, according to Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis.

 

Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Sunday, Spirtzis emphasised that it was a project of "geopolitical significance, which contributes to the cooperation of Balkan and Black Sea countries. It is a project that provides Greece with a connection to the inlands of the Balkans and Bulgaria, while giving Balkan and Black Sea countries direct access to the Aegean."

The plan, which also involves the construction of an ultra-modern cargo centre in each country, will upgrade combined transport and related infrastructure in Greece, thus helping attract new production units and better supporting those that already exist, he said. "It is another major step toward making our Balkan neighbourhood a secure space of economic cooperation.

A single area of productive activities that transcend the borders of each country and the residues of the Cold War divisions of the past," Spirtzis added. He also pointed out that the agreement that the two countries will sign on Wednesday in Kavala envisages the foundation of a transnational agency that will take charge of the project, a method for implementing transnational infrastructure projects used for the first time in the Balkans and only the second time in Europe.

"This has a special weight and importance, since it will be implemented by a joint agency of the two countries and not by each country separately, in its own territory," he said. Reaching this outcome had required a number of staff-level technical meetings and political consultations, Spirtzis pointed out.

"The role of the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc was crucial to arriving at the deal and will continue to be crucial for its implementation. It is clear that our country is regaining what it always should have had: vision, a specific national strategic plan for infrastructure and people that will carry out that plan through hard work," he said. When the government had first spoken about building a "rail Egnatia", Spirtzis added, it had been the butt of sarcasm from "those representing the belief in a small and dependent Greece".

"We are pressing ahead, implementing the vision of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for a Greece that stands on its own two feet, with a national strategy and active participation in European politics and international events. A Greece that will regain its lost sovereignty and dignity, on the final path for an exit from the memorandum programmes," the minister concluded.

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