Macedonia initialled a Chinese loan that will be used to build more motorway stretches, the Transport Minister said at Tuesday’s signing ceremony.“The agreement gives priority to infrastructure projects like road and railway networks, bridges, energy and telecommunications facilities… [and] encourages cooperation among banks and companies from both countries”, Macedonian Transport Minister Mile Janakieski explained at the signing ceremony in Skopje.
Beijing has allocated some 10 billion euro for reconstruction and development in Southeast Europe.
China’s ambassador to Macedonia, Cui Zhiwei, who signed the agreement with Macedonia in Skopje, said that it followed long-standing preparations and talks between the two governments.
First on the list of announced projects that will be facilitated by Chinese money is the construction of the motorway segment connecting the central town of Stip, an important regional economic centre, to the existing pan-European Corridor 10 that connects Macedonia with Greece to the south and Serbia to the north.
“We already have the documents ready so I expect construction to start in the first half of 2013,” Janakieski explained.
The government also plans to use Chinese funds and expertise to build a highway section between the western tourist towns of Ohrid and the nearby town of Kicevo.
This will eventually form part of the unfinished Corridor 8, linking the country with Bulgaria to the east and Albania to the west.
Janakieski said they soon plan to start improving several other regional roads with the help of the Chinese funds.
The agreement with China also encompasses assistance from experts, training, procurement of machinery, equipment and materials as well as exchange of experience.
Macedonia recently announced plans to boost the construction of transport infrastructure.
This summer it started building the last 28-kilometre motorway stretch of Corridor 10, a project that will cost some 300 million euros.
Most of the money for this came from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstriction and Development.
Macedonia also recently launched plans to renovate the railway line that is part of the Corridor 10 and announced a three-stage plan to build a brand new railway towards Bulgaria.