22 Apr 15
EU Hails Balkan Transport Network Deal
Leaders of six Western Balkans countries meeting on Tuesday in Brussels agreed on plans for a regional transport network, to which the EU has pledged 130 million euros.
The EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, on Tuesday said the “Western Balkan Six” conference in Brussels had reached agreement on a regional transport network.
The EU is ready to allocate 130 million euros from pre-accession IPA funds for the project by the end of the year, Hahn told a joint press conference with EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc. The funds will increase over the coming years, he added.
Tuesday’s summit, attended by the prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, marked a follow-up to a similar conference held last year in Berlin.
The process of defining a Western Balkan transport network was initiated by the European Commission, which has presented draft maps for major infrastructure projects.
The idea is to link up capitals, major cities and airports in the region, enabling faster economic progress.
For the network to be complete, the Balkan countries need to complete all the investment projects and meet the required technical standards by a target date of 2030.
“These are very specific projects and you who are in attendance here have sufficient reputation to carry them out, and that will be a definite signal that the Western Balkans are secure and stable,” Hahn said.
Better transport connections are crucial for regional development, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told the meeting.
“Serbia will do everything to back and expedite all projects related to the joint road network crossing into its territory,” Vucic added.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said joint projects would bring the region closer to the EU and ensure faster integration of the Western Balkans.
“Infrastructural connectivity will bring economic growth and create new opportunities, and, at the same time, it will reduce migratory pressure on the EU’s borders,” Djukanovic said.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)