Greece and Serbia closer after Tsipras’ visit

Prime ministers of Serbia and Greece agreed to commence negotiations on the reconstruction of the railway that connects Serbian capital city Belgrade to the Greek northern city of Thessaloniki.

The visiting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Tuesday. After their meeting, Vucic said that one of the most important topics of their meeting was the 650 km-long joint railway project that would accelerate both passenger and cargo transport from Belgrade to Thessaloniki.

“Currently, a cargo train needs 49 hours to arrive there, and this has to be reduced to 30 hours by year 2020. For comparison, passenger trains need around six hours to reach Thessaloniki”, Vucic said.

According to the Serbian PM, the two sides agreed to establish a joint council comprised of government officials who will meet this spring to discuss details of the railway project, as well as other planned projects.

Tsipras also highlighted the importance of the reconstruction of the railway line between Belgrade and Thessaloniki, saying the “modern railway network would enable citizens as well as goods from the port of Piraeus to reach Belgrade faster.” According to Tsipras, Greece is the third biggest investor in Serbia, and the two countries have to improve their relations to the level of strategic cooperation. He also revealed that the officials from the two governments would in Thessaloniki this spring to talk about initiating further cooperation in areas of energy, infrastructure, communication and technology.

The two prime ministers also discussed their relations and cooperation with other countries, including some outside the European Union. “We talked about our relations towards partners which are not EU members and agreed it is necessary to maintain good relations with China, as well as Russia and other countries,” Vucic said.

“I think that the opening of the New Suez Canal and the cooperation with China could turn Greece into a major hub, while Serbia could become a bridge connecting Western and Eastern Europe,” Tsipras said.

Tsipras arrived in Belgrade together with a Greek state delegation for a two-day visit.

(Xinhua, 31.01.2017)

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