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Unfinished Corridor 8 loses Bulgaria and Balkan neighbors EUR 1 B

Date: 26.03.2009

The unfinished Corridor 8 road and rail network has lost Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania up to EUR 1 B according to Bulgarian authorities.

Bulgarian authorities have signed numerous cooperation agreements on the project with their Macedonian and Albanian counterparts, the Macedonian newspaper Dnevnik reported Wednesday.

While Bulgaria, according to the publication, has been making some progress in recent years, Macedonia's part of the network is still at a standstill.

After the 15-year-long construction of a rail line for which EUR 100 M were spent, Macedonia only managed to complete one leg of the network which reaches Kriva Palanka and built several rail bridges, which are already falling apart.

A priority for the Macedonian authorities is the completion of the network to Bulgaria, which requires the contruction of 89 kilometers of rail lines, but it will not be accomplished in the next five years.The 66 kilometers from Kichevo to Albania will not be finished soon either, Dnevnik wrote

This reduces the possibility of a railway link between the Black and Adriatic seas, which is of a great importance to trade between the three countries.

Corridor 8, one of the ten Trans-European Corridors, is intended to connect the two seas by starting at the Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi, passing through Durres and Tirana in Albania, the Macedonian and Bulgarian capitals and ending at the Black Sea ports of Burgas and Varna.

In addition to making easier the exchange of goods, people, and energy supplies between the EU, the Balkan states and the states of Central Asia, the planned transportation route is seen as significant because of its role in strengthening the links between the Balkans countries and improving stability in the region.

Although the project for Corridor 8 has been in the works for almost two decades, it is still unrealised. This failure to materialise is the subject of recent Bulgarian documentary which bears the transportation route's name, as reported last year.

Directed by Boris Despodov, the film follows the corridor's drafted path from Burgas to Durres, telling along the way the stories of Bulgarians, Macedonians and Albanians who live along this dream of a highway. The documentary reveals how little people in the Balkans know of each other, often replacing their lack of knowledge with negative stereotypes.

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