By Bojana Gajic
Connection with Kosovo and Albania to improve regional integration in Western BalkansThe “Peace Highway” in the Western Balkans will come closer to the start of construction thanks to a loan of up to €85 million(US$101.19million) from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The loan will finance the construction of a 39-km section between the cities Niš and Pločnik in the south of Serbia.
The highway will connect Niš with Kosovo’s capital Priština, continue to Albania’s capital Tirana and end in Durrës on the Adriatic Sea. The road has been classified as an extension of the Trans-European Transport Network (Orient/East Mediterranean corridor) and is a part of Route 7 of the Western Balkans core network.
The construction of the ‘”Peace Highway” in Serbia is co-financed with a €100 million loan by the European Investment Bank, while the European Union is providing a €40.6 million investment grant as well as funding for project preparation through the Western Balkans Investment Framework.
People and businesses in Serbia’s less developed south will benefit from the new road, which will enable quicker and safer journeys. The improved infrastructure links are also expected to create more economic opportunities.
In addition, the new highway is a major step towards boosting regional economic cooperation between Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, with better infrastructure facilitating the flow of goods and people and reducing transport costs.
EBRD Regional Director, Western Balkans, Zsuzsanna Hargitai said: “Following our successful cooperation with the Serbian authorities on transport projects including Corridor X, the Belgrade Airport concession and Serbian Railways we are pleased that we can now contribute to the construction of this new highway in the south of the country. It is an investment to develop the common regional market in the Western Balkans and facilitate trade and the movement of people”, adding that the open competitive tender for procurement of works for the first road section is expected to be launched soon in December.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Serbia. The Bank has invested more than €6.3 billion across 277 projects in the country to date. The EBRD is focusing on support for private-sector development, the improvement of public utility services and on the overall transition towards a green economy.