A commercial contract stipulating construction of a new motorway stretch between Preljina and Pozega on the Corridor 11, worth 450 million EUR, has been signed in Budapest at the summit organized by China and 16 countries from Central Europe that make the 16+1 initiative.
Serbian Deputy PM and Minister of Construction, Zorana Mihajlovic, acting director of Putevi Srbije (Serbian Roads), Zoran Drobnjak and Vice President of the Chinese company, CCCC Ltd (China Communications Construction Company), Sun Ziu signed the contract that covers the construction of this 30,9km long stretch.
This project has a great importance in terms of connecting Serbia to the region, because it is an extension of the Corridor 11 in the direction of Montenegro, and is a part of the future Belgrade-Sarajevo motorway. Bridges and tunnels make almost a third of the Preljina – Pozega stretch.
Following the signing, the Financial Times has reported that the EU is not that keen on the Central and Eastern European countries cooperating with China to this extent, saying that the EU officials suspect that official Beijing might use its projects in Europe, particularly the 16+1 Initiative, to undermine EU regulation and use the growing tension between the eastern and western part of the Union.
Hungary, for instance, sees the 16+1 Initiative as a way of „opening up to the East“, Serbia views it as „solidifying the Serbian-Chinese friendship“, while Poland describes it as „a huge opportunity“.
China has been working full steam on institutionalizing its cooperation with Eastern Europe, shaping the 16+1 initiative into a platform for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This is turning into a stress test for EU cohesion.
To remind, 16+1 is an initiative launched by the People’s Republic of China aimed at intensifying and expanding cooperation with 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia) in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education, and culture.
(eKapija, Blic, 27.11.2017)
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