News 10 Oct 12

Disputes Overshadow Delayed Danube Bridge Opening

Bulgaria and Romania are still exchanging accusations ahead of the planned opening of a new Danube bridge.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Romanian and Bulgarian officials are still trading complaints ahead of the expected opening of a long-awaited bridge connecting the two countries.

The bridge over the Danube river, linking Vidin in Bulgaria and Calafat in Romania, is to open in early November at the latest.

“Romania has met all its commitments as we have finished all the works on the Romanian side of the bridge,” Septimiu Buzasu, the state secretary in the Romanian Ministry Transport, said recently.

“We would like more flexibility from the Bulgarian side regarding the future company that will have to manage the bridge,” he added.

The Romanian comments came shortly after Bulgaria complained that “political problems” in Romania were delaying the setting up of the company that will jointly manage the bridge.

“We attempted to meet several times, we wrote letters, but for the time being the answer from the Romanian side is that they don’t have a mandate to conduct such negotiations,” Bulgaria's Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, said last week.

Moskovski added that he would regret a situation in which the bridge was ready but could not be opened because of the lack of a management agreement.

Romania and Bulgaria agreed in 2000 to build a second bridge over the Danube, connecting Calafat and Vidin.

The EU provided some 106 million euro for the building of the bridge and adjoining infrastructure in the 2000-2006 period.

The new bridge, the only one along more than 300 km of the Danube, was set to be completed by October 2010.

But its opening was delayed several times due to technical difficulties. Construction is now nearly finished and the opening ceremony could take place by the end of October or the beginning of November.

Bulgaria and Romania possess only a single bridge between Giurgiu and Ruse across their 500-km river border and this is also their sole road connection. 

This lone monument of Romanian-Bulgarian socialist friendship is now over 50 years old and is heavily congested - the two road and rail lanes being wholly inadequate for increased volumes of traffic.

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