“This project is an important step towards closer integration of the region through our Connectivity agenda. Our joint objective is to improve links between Bosnia and Herzegovina and its neighbours, across the Western Balkans and between the region and the EU”, said Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of EU Delegation and EUSR in BiH, on the occasion of signing of the 25 million euro worth grant for the construction of the Svilaj – Odžak motorway, cross-border bridge and cross-border facility. The signing took place between Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Finance and Treasury and the European Investment Bank on 27 April 2017 in Sarajevo.
“This agreement is also concrete evidence of the European Union’s commitment here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today we are delivering a package of financial support worth over 25 million euros as a grant from the EU that we have committed in Vienna in 2015,” ambassador Wigemark said. “Our funds are a key element to make this major investment possible: a modern and efficient border crossing on the Svilaj – Odžak section of the Mediterranean Corridor, 600m cross-border bridge over the River Sava and 10.7 km of state-of-the-art motorway between Svilaj and Odžak. We are making a difference in peoples’ lives because once completed, this project will bring BiH nearer to its neighbours and to the EU”.
Matteo Rivellini, Head of EIB Division for the Western Balkans stressed that the grant agreement was a signal of the joint support from the European Union and the European Investment because these 25 million euro are the resources of the Western Balkans Investment Framework under the aegis of the European Union. “This project is about connecting the Western Balkans with the European Union and creating more links between businesses and people and EIB is working hard to facilitate this process,” Rivellini said.
“The Western Balkans Investment Framework approved these funds granted to BiH through the European Investment Bank and this is the first step towards realising the strategically important Svilaj – Odzak route. This is important for the regional cooperation as well as better communication with the EU,” said BiH Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda.
Once in operation, the motorway will safely allow for travel speeds of 120km/h, thus significantly reducing travel time through Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia. The investment complements three other projects undertaken by Bosnia and Herzegovina with the purpose of building a motorway along the entire Mediterranean Corridor within its borders: Doboj South – Sarajevo South; Sarajevo South (Tarčin) – Mostar North; and Mostar North – Bijača, on the southern border with Croatia.
The European Union and its partners – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank – have actively supported the development of this investment, particularly through the Western Balkans Investment Framework, with technical assistance grants for feasibility and design studies, prior to the selection of this project for financing under the Connectivity Agenda, in 2015.