IBNA Special Report
Skopje, July 4, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Naser Pajaziti
While as of yesterday (Thursday), Kosovo started the construction of the highway linking Pristina to the border crossing point of Han of Elez with FYR Macedonia, for Macedonian authorities, this road segment is not much of a priority. Government in Skopje doesn’t have the construction of the remaining part of the highway, from the border crossing point to Skopje, as part of its program.
Although FYR Macedonia is one of the biggest exporters for Kosovo, government in Skopje doesn’t make a priority out of the construction of the highway in its part, where the distance from Bllace to the suburbs of Skopje is only 13 km.
Meanwhile, on the Kosovar side, the highway is 60 km long and its cost will be 820 million USD.
Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has reacted today in relation to this important road segment.
“The connection of Macedonia with Kosovo through a highway is not a priority of the Ministry of Transport and the government. The construction of the road segment linking Skopje to Bllace has been scheduled to start in 2016. Now we’re in the phase of examining if these 13 km of road are profitable or not. The construction of this road segment will be made based on a partnership between the public and private sector”, said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
Deputy prime minister of FYR Macedonia, Musa Xhaferri, present at the ceremony of the inauguration of the works in Kosovo, said that this highway will be a connecting bridge between Albanians and it will offer social, political, economic and brotherly cohesion between both sides.
“Kosovo will be able to be connected to important corridors such as “8th Corridor” and “10th Corridor” in order to be further connected with the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea and through Macedonia with Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and other countries”, said Xhaferi.
According to him, government in Skopje is making maximum efforts to find alternatives for the continuation of this highway.
The government is planning to find an international concessionary company for the realization of this project, because its priority now is the construction of the two highways which have already started, one of them in the western part of the country, linking Kercova to Ohrid, 56 km long and the other in the eastern part of the country, from Miladinovc in Skopje to Shtip, which is 53 km long. The construction of these two highways has started after the government secured a loan of 790 million USD from the Chinese bank “Eksim Bank”.
But businesses and economic chambers in the country demand for this road project to be one of the main priorities of the government, because Kosovo is an important partner of the country.
Arben Halili, head of the Economic Chamber of Northwestern Macedonia told IBNA that this road segment is strategic and beneficial for Macedonian companies.
“We have constantly demanded for this road segment to be a priority and to be built, as they are only a few kilometers. Kosovo is the biggest importer of Macedonian products and statistics show this. In the meetings with businesses, this road connection with Kosovo has been set as a priority”, says Arben Halili.
According to the statistics of the State Authority of Statistics, Kosovo is the biggest trade partner for FYROM. During the first four months of this year, commercial exchanges between the two countries have amounted to 80 million USD. Based on these data, FYROM is the second largest exporter after Germany. Meanwhile, exports from Kosovo to FYROM are not that high. Since the start of the year, FYROM has exported to Kosovo 70 million USD worth of goods and imported only 11 million USD. /ibna/