IBNA Special Report
Tirana, March 25, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
Albanian PM, Edi Rama announced today the start of the project for the Blue Highway, which will link the Croatian, Montenegrin and Albanian coastlines together. This highway is on the focus of today’s meeting of Foreign Ministers and Ministers of Infrastructure of the Balkan region taking place in Pristina. The summit in question is called “Western Balkans 6” and sees the participation of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner of the European Union for Policies of Neighborhood and Accession Negotiations. This summit follows the Berlin Summit, organized by Chancellor Merkel, Angela Merkel, with the aim of encouraging economic cooperation between the countries of the Balkan region.
For the head of the Albanian government, “this is the first fruit of the Berlin Conference”. “The first fruit of the Berlin Conference arrived. We start the project of the blue highway which will link the coastlines of Croatia, Montenegro and Albania”, said Mr. Rama today.
“The Blue Corridor” is considered as the biggest project that will link the Mediterranean, north of Croatia and its southern part with Montenegro, Albania and below with Greece, to create “The Mediterranean Ring”.
The construction of this highway was agreed in a meeting between the prime ministers of Albania, Edi Rama, Croatia, Zoran Milanovic, Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic and Bosnia, Vjekoslav Bevanda. This meeting was held in Croatia a few months ago and came after the Berlin Conference on West Balkan, last August.
The Prime Ministers of the four countries offer their evaluations
PM Rama guarantees Albania’s full support for this project. He says that sustainable cooperation in the region is a necessity for the prosperity of Western Balkan and to take forward the process of European integration. The Croatian PM also expressed Croatia’s support for the realization of this project, considering it as a “road that links the region”.
“This project has not yet been delivered, although it is important for Croatia, as a continuation of the road that links the region and it’s also important for Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina, which comes after Croatia”, said Mr. Milanovic. He adds that this project is also important for Kosovo. The Montenegrin PM, Milo Djukanovic says that this highway is a prerequisite of the general economic and democratic development. “The Ionian-Adriatic highway is an important corridor, which will offer European standards for all the citizens of our countries”, Mr. Djukanovic says.
Bosnia’s PM, Vjekoslav Bevanda says that the corridor is essential for the region. “Look at the geographical map and you will understand how essential this corridor is and how many good things it brings”, Mr. Bevanda says.
What is the “Blue Corridor”
The Blue Corridor or the Adriatic-Ionian highway is under construction alongside the western coast of the Adriatic and Ionian sea. The Adriatic Ionian highway joins the Dalmatian segment with the Greek sea coast. For Albania, this regional project means a new highway alongside the coast.
It connects the coast of Montenegro with the Greek coast through Albania and it may be funded by EU with the funds for candidate members.
For the development of this project, Albania is under pressure by neighboring countries, because the countries must summit joint projects to the EU.
In the Albanian land, several segments of the project have already been built, but some others which must be started, have not gone under a feasibility study. They were made part of the process last year.
The project of the road has a length of 350 km and can be divided into these segments starting from the North: Velipoja-Shengjin, Shengjin-Patok, Patok-Durres, Durres-Divjaka, Divjaka-Seman, Seman-Vlora, Vlora-Dhermi, Dhermi-Saranda, Saranda-Butrint.
For the segment from Velipoja to Shengjin there’s an estimated cost of 40 million USD.
For the other part, there’s no feasibility study yet.
The full cost of this project is expected to be over 400 million Euros. The idea has been determined as a priority in the Instrument of Pre Accession (IPA), as far as its finding in the framework of EU integration is concerned.
A single highway
The plan is for this to be a single highway. It starts in Trieste (Italy) and goes through Slovenia and Rijeka in Croatia. Most of the segment in Croatia consists of the A1. Near Dubrovnik, the Adriatic-Ionian highway will pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina to Trebinja in Montenegro. There it will continue through Podgorica and then in Durres, Albania to continue to Greece. In Greece, this highway will pass in Yoannina and Patra ending in Kallamata.
From its start in Trieste, the existing roads are joined in highways RA13 and RA14 for the part until the Slovenian border. A part of the distance is part of the Adriatic-Ionian highway. RA14 continues with the Slovenian A3.
In the Slovenian party, the blue highway starts with the current A3 highway from the Italian border in Sezana to the A1. The other part has not yet been planned, but it will reach up to the Croatian border in Jeslane, given that there will be the link with the Croatian highway A7. Until this part is finished, it will go through a national road.
Until today, Croatia has made the biggest progress in its party completing the most important part of the A7 and A1. At the end of 2013, the length of the highway from the Slovenian border to Rupa was 393 km.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
For a long time, it was unclear if the Adriatic-Ionian highway would join Bosnia and Herzegovina in the road segment that continues from the Dubrovnik airport to the border of Montenegro in Debelji Brijeg. The contact point between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro is expected to be between Arandjelovac (BiH) and Nudo (Montenegro). But, there are no concrete plans for this road in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The fourth corridor is expected to be in Montenegro according to the Plan for the development of transport until 2020. After the concretization of the Adriatic-Ionian highway through Bosnia and Herzegovina, the same planning is also important for the roads of Montenegro. These plans are now part of the Plan for the development of transport of Montenegro, which is expected to end in 2020. The highway from Grahova to Bozhaj will form the Montenegrin segment of the Adriatic-Ionian section. The blue highway will start from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina near Nudo to Grahova. The blue corridor will pass in the north of Broka in Kotorr to Podgorica and then to the Lake of Shkoder.
Albania has completed most of the corridor from north to south for the connection with Montenegro and Greece (which is comprised mainly by SH1 and SH4). The blue corridor from north to south is at the same time the Adriatic-Ionian highway, therefore, only two parts are yet to be completed. This part includes the distance from the Montenegrin border to Shkoder (Han i Hotit-Shkoder, nearly 30 km) and a small part between Memaliaj and Tepelena (nearly 7 km).
Greece is building its sections of the Adriatic-Ionian highway: the main parts consist of the “Ionia Odos” (A5) of Yoannina on the bridge of Rio-Antirrio in Patras and on the other hand, a highway in Patras through Pirgos Tsakona (The East of Peloponnesus Highway). The initial plans to build a road 46 km long from the Albanian border to Kakavi up to Yoannina or up to the A2 junction. The plans are being suspended. The section from Kakavia-Kalpaki-Yoannina is as much developed. /ibna/