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Greece and Bulgaria signed a transportation memorandum on September 6, Bulgaria’s Unification Day.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signed the €1 billion deal in Kavala, Greece, on Wednesday, to facilitate planned construction of a railway that will connect the countries’ ports, highways, and railroads, from Thessaloniki in northern Greece to the Black Sea port of Ruse in Bulgaria.
The railway will also connect sea ports with ports along the Danube and Romania, and Serbia are also expected to take part in the decade-long project.
According to Bulgarian news site Vesti.bg, both prime ministers made statements after the signing of the bilateral agreement. Borisov emphasized Bulgaria’s development over its decade-long membership in the EU, but also pointed out the economic hardships that some southern EU member states have been faced with.
“We’ve been killed and killed in the Balkans, and nothing has been positive,” Borisov stated.
Greek Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis pointed out that this railway connection was long overdue, while Tsipras mentioned the historical ties between countries of the region and Russia, saying that these countries could assist in the improvement of relations between Brussels and Moscow.
Borisov used this occasion to comment on the region and the country’s upcoming EU presidency. “One of the problems in the Balkans is that every country want to be the greatest. Whether it’s Greater Bulgaria, Greater Albania, Greater Greece or Greater Serbia. If we continue down this path, the greatest will either unite or be divided, the matter is clear enough.”
Bulgaria is set to begin its presidency term over the EU in July 2018. Borisov has promised that this will be “a Balkan presidency” in the EU.
Feature image source credit: Kremlin.ru [CC BY 4.0] – Alexis Tsipras and Vladimir Putin in Beijing, May 2017