BRUSSELS-Commissioner Siim Kallas, and the Ministers and other high level delegates of the 9th SEETO Annual Meeting of Ministers, emphasized the importance of integrating the SEETO Comprehensive Network into TEN-T and carrying out an effective transport policy in the region. They elaborated the achievements in that respect and the ongoing efforts for improving the regional cooperation and neighbouring transport connections.
Mr. Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge for Transport– “Transport is a vital part of the accession process… it brings peoples and economies of Europe closer together, it reduces distances between them physically and metaphorically. In the future, the whole Western Balkans will benefit from the integration into the TEN-T.
…Transport network of the Western Balkans has been included as indicative extension of the TEN-T. This is based on the work done by SEETO which only goes to demonstrate its importance and recognition by the EU. But this is just the first step…Transport infrastructure in the region needs to be modernized, and while CEF could give some support to cross-border projects or projects linked to ITS, the main sources of funding will have to come from the Western Balkans countries: IPA, WBIF or from various IFIs. This requires setting up a transparent regulatory and fiscal environment, which in turn will attract potential investors and IFIs.”
Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Albania– “We all share the view that transport is indispensable for growth and economic development, thus we have to support the sector and make it as efficient as possible. So far in Albania, the road sector has absorbed over 55% of all public spending. However, challenges remain regarding completion of works, quality of works, safety elements, and especially maintenance of roads and their sustainability…We are about to take decision on this matter, because over the last years the money allocated for maintenance has been up to 1/6 or 1/5 of required money which is a waist not only in terms of wear-tear, but also it does not provide a good quality of services and therefore it deprives us of a possibility to recuperate and return the investments”.
Mr. Mile Janakieski, Minister of Transport and Communications of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia- “We have set ambitious goals in the upcoming planning period 2014-2020 and therefore, I would like to send a clear message to the members of the European Commission to continuously keep investing along the SEETO Comprehensive Network and to pledge for increase of those funds, if the region is to be fully integrated and free flow of people and goods is to be ensured…I would personally like to use this meeting to initiate signing of liberalisation agreements among the countries from the region concerning the road transport of goods, which will reduce one of the administrative barriers for our carriers, improve the neighbouring relations and increase the growth of the economy”.
Mr. Ivan Brajović, Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs of Montenegro-Serious approach of the Montenegrin Government when it comes to realisation of the project for construction of the motorway Bar-Boljare, is demonstrated by the fact that it is a project of highest priority for the Government, irrespective of the current situation on the financial and economic markets. The project will have enormous micro and macro-economic impact, since it will represent an important transit route bringing greater competitiveness for Montenegro, as a credible candidate country for EU membership….I use this opportunity to express again our strong support towards initialling and signing of a Transport Community Treaty…
Mr. Fehmi Mujota, Minister of Infrastructure of Kosovo*- We believe that the project REBIS (Regional Balkans Infrastructure Study), will be a great help to the region on identifying the physical and non-physical barriers. If we do not take greater measures to eliminate or reduce the number of these barriers, then our infrastructure investments will lose its value. All recommendations and long-term solutions that will derive from the study should and will be put into action”.
Mr. Duško Lopandić, Ambassador of Serbia to the EU- Today, we have documentation ready for the construction of the first modern terminal in Belgrade. Multimodal nodes must play an important role, not only in terms of accessibility, but also as optimal places for economic and industry grouping. Interconnected with intermodal terminals, the Danube River and competitive rail freight corridors can reduce congestion on the roads and contribute to an efficient transport system and environmentally sustainable transport modal split”.
Mr. Zoran Andrić, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Communications and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina– “Good regional cooperation and intensified bilateral agreements are one of the greatest SEETO MoU results since the last year… further regional cooperation is seen with the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding among the Transport Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania for reconstruction and modernisation of the road connecting Sarajevo-Podgorica-Tirana, which confirms their willingness and readiness to work together for improving the conditions on this road. Currently, the preparation of the technical documentation is ongoing, which is supported by the EU funds”.
Mrs. Jasminka Kirkova, SEETO Steering Committee Chairperson– “Taking into consideration the worsening economic situation as well as the current infrastructure needs of the region, the importance of strategic transport planning by identifying main regional priorities became even more important. In this year’s MAP, 40 projects were identified as regional infrastructure priorities. The total required investment for the implementation of the 40 priority projects is €8.3 billion”