The projects aimed at boosting the capacity of the border checkpoints, improving the cross-border road communications, connecting the gas-transferring systems and creating new transport corridors have been on the agenda of Bulgaria’s and Greece’s governments for a long time. That is why a memorandum for understanding aimed at launching a new transport corridor connecting the Bulgarian ports in Ruse, Varna and Burgas and the Greek ports in Alexandroupolis, Kavala and Thessaloniki was inked on September 6 in the Greek town of Kavala.
Some sources described that event as a step towards the fulfillment of a new infrastructure project between the two countries. However, we are rather talking about expanding the scope of the Greece-Bulgaria bilateral agreement about a multimodal freight corridor between the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Danube, reached in 2016. Bulgaria’s Minister of Transport Ivaylo Moscovski and his Greek counterpart Christos Spirtzis signed on Wednesday a memorandum of cooperation on the development of the Thessaloniki-Kavala-Alexandroupolis- Varna-Burgas-Ruse rail link. Moreover, Greece accepted Bulgaria’s proposal and the port in Bulgaria’s Danube city of Ruse was also included in the project. Thus, the new transport corridor will cover railway, road, maritime and river transport. It also guarantees a shortcut to the countries situated along the Danube.
The railway link provides access to bigger markets which gives the project a high added value. According to expectations and estimates, it will attract large investors from the Middle East, China, Russia, etc. Bulgaria and Greece are also hoping that the project will attract the interest of the EU and will be included in the so-called Juncker Investment Plan. That’s why Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras who also attended the event have requested a meeting with EC President Jean Claude Juncker in October this year on which Mr. Juncker will get acquainted with the idea for development of the region and will be asked for support. Moreover, Bulgaria is to take over the rotational Presidency of the Council of the European Union in January 2018, which is also in favor of that idea.
The project is estimated at EUR 5 billion. The Bulgarian section will cost EUR 1.070 billion. However, the expansion of the multimodal freight corridor connecting the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Danube has a very high political value as well. The memorandum of cooperation was signed on September 6, the day when Bulgaria celebrates the Unification between the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia that took place back in 1885. That coincidence made Premier Borissov comment that Bulgaria’s unification nowadays continues with neighboring countries through the fulfillment of transport and gas projects.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov