Bulgaria to Pay for Greek Road Section on Border Pass
Bulgaria is ready to pave with asphalt a kilometer and a half on Greek territory on the road through the Makaza mountain pass.
The statement was made by Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, during his visit to the southern city of Kardzhali, cited by the Bulgarian National Television.
According to Borisov, this will accelerate the opening of the new cross border check point between Bulgarian and Greece.
The Bulgarian PM is to extend the proposal to his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras.
Borisov noted that Bulgaria has been ready for quite a while with its section, but due to the economic crisis, the Greek side lacks funding to finish their construction thus the road between Kardzhali and Komotini remains closed.
The cross border points between Bulgaria and Greece now are Kulata-Promachonas, Ilinden-Exochi, Svilengrad-Ormenion, and Zlatograd-Thermes (Xanti).
The 24-km road section between Kardzhali and Podkova will be connected to the already completed road between Podkova and the Makaza Pass, thus providing a fast and direct road connection from Central Southern Bulgaria to Greece via Kardzhali.
The Ruse-Makaza road linking Romania and Greece through Central Bulgaria is supposed to be part of the Pan-European Transport Corridor No. 9 leading from Helsinki, the Baltic States, Moscow, Kiev, and Bucharest to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis on the Aegean.
However, the international transport corridor, which harbors the potential to stimulate the development of much of Bulgaria's central regions, does not function at present because the Makaza Pass in the Rhodope Mountains on the Bulgarian-Greek border remains closed.
This is in spite of numerous promises in the past five years by senior Bulgarian and Greek politicians that a border crossing point there will be opened "next year."
The delay in the opening of the Makaza Pass, which is some 20 km north of Greece's Aegean coastline, has been attributed to the slow construction of the road on the Greek side of the border. If it becomes fully operational, the Ruse-Makaza Pass road will provide the shortest route from Romania's capital Bucharest (and much of Central and Eastern Europe, for that matter) to the Aegean / Mediterranean.
On Bulgaria's territory the Ruse-Makaza Pass road (section of Pan-European Transport Corridor No. 9) goes through Ruse, Byala, Veliko Tarnovo, Dryanovo, Gabrovo, the Shipka Pass (Balkan Mountain), Kazanlak, Stara Zagora, Dimitrovgrad, Haskovo, Kardzhali, and Momchilgrad to reach Makaza. It is dubbed Road I-5 (E-85) for Bulgarian government purposes.
The recent and long-anticipated decision of the Bulgarian government to make the Ruse-Makaza road a "priority project" is justified with the need to absorb EU funds under Operational Program "Transport", which would allow faster administrative procedures for investments, land expropriation, and construction. The Bulgarian government plans to turn the road in question into a "high-speed way" (with four lanes).
The actual realization on European Transport Corridor No. 9, however, also depends on the realization of one of the most-talked about infrastructure projects in Bulgaria in the past 20 years – the construction of a tunnel under the Shipka Pass in the Stara Planina Mountain (Balkan Mountain), which is supposed to improve greatly the transport links between Northern and Southern Bulgaria along the Ruse-Makaza route.