Greece and Bulgaria's transport ministries signed today in the Greek city of Kavala an intergovernmental memorandum of cooperation (MoU) in the presence of Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov, AMNA reported.
The memorandum will speed up the planned construction of a new railway line that will link the ports of Thessaloniki, Kavala and Alexandroupoli on the Aegean Sea with the Bulgarian ports of Burgas and Varna on the Black Sea and Ruse on the Danube River.
The document defines the preparatory works of all the technical, economic and legal elements necessary for the creation of the body that will implement and manage the project.
The project includes the construction of a double-track electrified railway featuring an integrated European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), the Bulgarian government said in a statement after approving the draft MoU at a weekly meeting.
The construction of the railway would lead to complete multimodality due to the connection of road, rail, water and river transport. The Greek section will cost about EUR 4 billion, and the Bulgarian one roughly EUR 1 billion.
The project, which is expected to give a boost to the development of the ports as logistics platforms and contribute to the economic revival of Southern Europe, will attract both EU and international funding.
“The project has a high added value and is expected to attract large investors from the Middle East, China, Russia and other major markets,” Bulgaria’s Government Information Service (GIS) said.
Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) on Sunday, Greece's Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Christos 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 rail link is also expected to provide an alternative route to the congested Bosphorus Strait.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and is located on the Thermaic Gulf, at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. For 2300 years, since its foundation in 315/6 BC and up until today, the port of Thessaloniki constitutes one of the most important ports in Southeast Europe.Due to its advantageous geographical location and its excellent road links and train connections, it is the largest transit-trade port in the country and it services the needs of approximately 15 million inhabitants of its international mainland.
Kavala is a city in northern Greece. The port of Kavala played a major role in the evolution and the development of the city from ancient times until now. It was built by the Thasians at the end of the 7th century B.C.and kept open the way to Aegean and the coast of Asia Minor
Alexadroupoli is a city in northeastern Greece. Alexandroupoli benefits from its position at the centre of land and sea routes connecting Greece with Turkey. The port of Alexandroupolisis the only large port of Thrace and the greatest commercial hub of the area. It receives passenger, merchant, fishing and tourist ships.
Burgas is the second largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the fourth-largest in Bulgaria The Port of Burgas is the largest port in the country. The city of 211,033 inhabitants is home to LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas, the largest oil refinery in southeastern Europe. Burgas is also the center of the Bulgarian fishing and fish processing industry.
Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is referred to as the maritime capital of Bulgaria and headquarters the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. The city has been a major economic, social and cultural centre for almost three millennia.
Ruse is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria and is located in the northeastern part of the country, on the right bank of the Danube. It is the most significant Bulgarian river port, serving an important part of the international trade of the country.