Bulgaria's President 'Resurrects' Transport Corridor 8 during Italy Visit

Diplomacy | March 30, 2012, Friday // 18:58|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev (left) with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in Rome. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Presidents of Bulgaria and Italy, Rosen Plevneliev and Giorgio Napolitano have agreed "to accelerate the work on" the creation of Pan-European Transport Corridor No. 8.

Plevneliev, Bulgaria's newly-elected President, made his first foreign visit by going to Rome Friday, after visiting Brussels in February, shortly after his inauguration.

Pan-European Corridor No. 8 – a parallel linking the Bulgarian Black Sea ports to the Albanian Adriatic ports via Macedonia along and its extension to Italy, a supposedly vital chain in the proposed shortest route between East and Central Asia and Western Europe – has been talked about for years with grand expectations for boosting trade and development in the Balkans – but has seen little realization.

The Balkan route of Corridor No. is about 1 350 km long, and includes, roads, railways, airports, and sea ports.

To date, Transport Corridor 8 has remained largely imaginary, and has solely boiled down to political declarations.

Probably the most important obstacle for the project is the lack of a railway connection between Bulgaria and Macedonia, with the Macedonian state balking at the construction of several dozen kilometers of line on its territory.

"At present, Bulgaria is the only nation working intensively on Corridor No. 8. This was especially underscored with gratitude by the Italian President," Plevneliev declared in Rome, as cited by Focus.

He and Napolitano agreed on cooperation in agriculture, food industry, SMEs, and infrastructure projects, and have noted the Russian-sponsored South Stream gas transit project as an absolute priority for the governments of both Bulgaria and Italy.

"I am a great optimist. Italy understands us, Italy supports us. It is not just their support for Bulgaria's Schengen accession, but the understanding that we are modifying the common European future together," Plevneliev stated in Rome.

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Tags: Giorgio Napolitano, Italian President, Italy, Rome, Bulgarian President, Corridor 8, transport corridor, Balkans


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