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Nov 20, 2007 18:46 EEST
November 20 (SeeNews) - Despite recent financial inflows, the branches of European Union-defined corridor V in Balkan neighbours Bosnia and Croatia still face difficulties in attracting foreign investments into public private partnerships (PPP) due to the insufficient legal, financial and monitoring environment in the area, an EU official said.
Besides, difficulties also are rooted in the serious damages that the infrastructure of the region had suffered during the disintegration of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Giuseppe Razza, General Manager of the Corridor V Secretariat at Central European Initiative, a regional organisation for political, economic and cultural cooperation, told SeeNews in a recent interview.
The collapse of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s was accompanied by ethnic turmoil and wars that left the region in isolation, slowing down its development and its European integration process.
The Vc corridor branch connects the Hungarian capital Budapest with the Croatian Adriatic port of Ploce via Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Osijek in Croatia. The other branch of the corridor, Vb, links Budapest and Rijeka, on the northern Croatian Adriatic coast, via the Croatian capital Zagreb.
"The transport policies for the development of the Pan-European Network in Bosnia and Croatia focus their attention to the priority projects concerning the modernization of the railway lines," Razza said.
At the moment the main obstacles two Balkan neighbours face include difficult access to financing and the need for the projects to meet European standards, Razza said.
"Bosnian and Croatian efforts must continue focusing on the achievement of these objectives, but they also have to remind that, besides this, other interventions are missing," he added.
Among the main goals Bosnia and Croatia should pursue Razza singled out the development of seaport and airport terminals in order to prepare the facilities to handle the bigger quantity of freight that is expected in the future.
Razza said that a lot of investments have already been made into inland freight terminals but what still needs to be done is the completion of interconnections among various means of transport, with less damage to the environment.
"Nevertheless, during the 2007-2013 period, the new EC grants that will be available for these two countries by the IPA financing instrument, together with the loans made available by international banks, the European Investment Bank in particular, will facilitate the implementation of the identified priorities," Razza said.
IPA is the EU's new financial tool for all pre-accession activities funded by the European Commission. It replaced previous assistance instruments to the Western Balkan countries as of January 1, 2007. The Western Balkans is the EU jargon for Albania and the former Yugoslav republics less Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004.
EU candidate Croatia, which started accession talks in October 2005 and hopes to join the union by the end of the decade, will receive 749.8 million euro under IPA in between 2007 and 2011.
A total 440.1 million euro in EU money is planned for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia was the last country in southeast Europe to launch talks on signing a SAA. The talks opened in January 2007. However, the EU said that is ready to initial an agreement for closer ties with Bosnia once the country meets the conditions set earlier by the EU executive, particularly unifying its ethnically divided police force.
Razza said that the further development of corridor V network through Croatia and Bosnia would help the two countries' economies grow faster, would create new jobs and save time and costs.
"This new network is going to provide them also other benefits, such as an environmentally friendly system of transport and a direct access to their trading partners, with whom they share the membership to the same project," he said.
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