Road between North Macedonia and the Bulgarian border opens for traffic
The state road from the town of Kriva Palanka in North Macedonia to the Deve Bair border crossing point with Bulgaria was officially put into use on 23 January 2024. It was completely overhauled, and a third lane added, as part of the investments in the Trans-European Transport Corridor VIII. The investment amounts to €12.2 million, with an EU grant through WBIF of €2.4 million and a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
North Macedonian Prime Minister, Dimitar Kovačevski, and the Ambassador of the European Union in North Macedonia, David Geer, were among the guests at the official handover ceremony of the 13-kilometre-long stretch.
Prime Minister Kovačevski expressed his optimism, stating: “The completion of the road routes, integral to European Corridor VIII and Corridor X-e, marks an important step in the political and economic investment in our European future. The face of North Macedonia is changing as many large infrastructure projects come to completion, making us attractive to citizens and investors who recognise our potential and the opportunities on offer. If last year was a one of new opportunities, I expect this year to be one of European opportunities that will provide us with our European future. We are, and will continue, working on this with dedication.”
European Ambassador Geer highlighted the road's economic significance, stating: “The improvement of the road section from Kriva Palanka to the border with Bulgaria will contribute to the economic development of the country and its regional integration. The EU remains a strong partner in all infrastructure projects that contribute to the faster economic integration of the country.”
Fatih Turkmenoglu, director of the EBRD in North Macedonia, reiterated their ongoing commitment to sustainability and economic growth, stating: “With over €1.2 billion invested to date in roads, railways, waste management and energy, the EBRD remains a strategic partner of North Macedonia, in building a sustainable and greener economy.”
Minister of Transport and Communications, Blagoj Bochvarski, underscored the significant investments in road infrastructure: “This road is part of a €2 billion investment aimed at creating conditions for economic growth, facilitating the transportation of cargo and passengers and opening new opportunities for domestic companies.”
The project is part of the ‘Safer travel and better connectivity of the citizens of North Macedonia’ programme, supported by the European Union Connectivity Agenda 2015-2020, as recalled by the director of the Public Enterprise for State Roads, Ejup Rustemi.
Mayor Saško Mitovski of Kriva Palanka expressed the tangible benefits for citizens, emphasising the the cross-border connections and its impact on the socio-economic development of the local areas.