18 April, 2007
The foreign ministry on Tuesday outlined the ongoing course of Athens' high-profile Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (ESOAB in its Greek abbreviation) plan, with Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis noting that the Greek-funded restoration of new Sarajevo's new government house, among others, will be ready next month.
Among the other priorities, Stylianidis cited funding for the Pan-European road corridor X, namely, a 108-kilometre upgrading of the current Thessaloniki-Skopje-Belgrade highway, budgeted at 635 million dollars, of which Greece will contribute roughly 150 million.
Another seminal road project, the Sayiades-Konispol-Sarande highway, connecting the extreme northwestern tip of Greece -- across from the Ionian island of Corfu -- with southwestern Albania, is expected to dramatically boost cross-border traffic in the region, which hosts a sizeable ethnic Greek community on the Albanian side.
The project has a length of 40.5 kilometers and is budgeted at 37.5 million euros, 30 million of which will come from the Plan.
Finally, Stylianidis said another "big ticket" project is the establishment of SEElight, a regional fibre optic network connecting some 300 universities and research centres in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Additionally, the Greek minister said Athens has continued stepped up efforts to renegotiate the original ESOAB agreement of 2002 with the six (at the time) partners (Serbia-Montenegro, FYROM, Romania, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Finally, he said the primary criteria that Athens employs to meet its ESOAB commitments is reciprocity with Greek companies and the entire economy, as well as promotion of Greece's overall role in the region.
Source: Athens News Agency