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EU ready to grant 600 mln euro for Serbia-N. Macedonia railway link - Vucic

Author Radomir Ralev
EU ready to grant 600 mln euro for Serbia-N. Macedonia railway link - Vucic Source: EC - Audiovisual Service

BELGRADE (Serbia), April 27 (SeeNews) - The European Union (EU) is ready to provide a grant of at least 600 million euro ($725 million) for the construction of a high-speed railway line linking Belgrade to North Macedonia through Nis, President Aleksandar Vucic said.

"The EU has committed to cover between 35% and 50% of the cost of the project. In the worst case scenario, i.e. 35%, this would be about 600 million euro," Vucic said in a video file posted on the YouTube channel of Tanjug news agency on Monday.

The EU offer for the project is much more attractive than what China has proposed, Vucic said in Brussels after meeting with EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

"We discussed the fight against COVID-19, economic recovery, accession process where we need to continue to see positive developments in Rule of Law, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, the Belgrade-North Macedonia railway which we are ready to support," Von der Leyen said in her Twitter profile on Monday.

In October, Vucic said the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has submitted an offer to the Serbian government for the reconstruction of the railway line linking Belgrade to Nis. Back then, Vucic said Serbia has asked the EU for a grant covering 50% of the project cost, adding that it will opt for a partnership with China on the project if the EU declines.

"We will include the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)," Vucic also said.

Serbian infrastructure minister Zorana Mihajlovic said in June 2020 that the government plans to invest some 2 billion euro in the reconstruction of the Nis-Belgrade railway line. Following the revamp, the 204 km railway line, which lies on European transport Corridor X, will support 200 km/h train speed, which means that the Nis-Belgrade distance will be covered in an hour and 15 minutes, Vucic said in June 2020.

($ = 0.8273 euro)