Macedonian Ambassador Gjorcev Praises PM Borissov's Suggestion for Joint Investment in Belene N- Plant Project

Sofia, February 27 (BTA) - Speaking at a conference on "Strategic Infrastructure and Investments 2018: Cohesion and Connectivity" in Sofia, Macedonian Ambassador Marjan Gjorcev praised Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's idea for joint investment in the completion of the Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. He said the Western Balkan countries, which offset electricity shortages through import, would benefit from having their own source of electricity for several decades in Bulgaria, a friendly neighbour.

Ambassador Gjorcev stressed that the other countries of the region depend on import from countries with many nuclear power plants. Macedonia imports electricity worth over 500 million euro a year, mostly from Bulgaria, he said.

At the EBRD's Western Balkan Investment Summit in London on Monday, Borissov said the Belene N-plant should be built as a common Balkan project on EU funding.

The Macedonian Ambassador said Pan-European Transport Corridor VIII had long been in limbo - there were neither ideas and projects nor a political will to build it. Corridor VIII is not just a road and rail link, it includes developing electricity transmission networks, gas supply to all the Western Balkan countries, and development of industry, trade, transport, tourism and services, which generate a sizable portion of GDP across Europe, said the Macedonian diplomat.

It is particularly important for all countries of the Western Balkans to realize that Corridor VIII is multifunctional and to opt for cooperation and joint projects because the individual countries lack the resources to build that corridor. The stretch across Macedonia alone would cost nearly 2 billion euro, said Ambassador Gjorcev.

Corridor VIII is also important for the countries' digitalization if they want to be part of the fourth industrial revolution. "If the Western Balkan countries want to be part of that new era, we should follow in Bulgaria's footsteps. It is a giant not just in Southeastern Europe but perhaps in the whole of Europe, not only because [Bulgarian] Mariya Gabriel is the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society but because of the country's achievements in that sector," the ambassador said.

Bulgaria's Deputy Transport Minister Velik Zanchev stressed it was important to show the EU partners of the region that its transport connectivity would lead to greater security and economic growth of the EU countries. In 2017 the Western Balkans saw project consolidation and application of the corridor-based project principle. Operational Programme Transport will finance projects with nearly 5 billion leva in the 2014-2020 programming period. The funding provided by the Connecting Europe Facility and national co-financing is considerable but insufficient to meet the need of investments in the transport sector, said Zanchev. He noted that the growing need of connectivity of Europe's Transport Network requires large financing for new infrastructure, which has prompted a search for various sources of financing.

Source: Sofia