• The canal will bring Greece and Serbia closer together.

07.11.2013 By: Antje Veregge

Artikel Nummer: 3589

Good things come to those who wait

The vision of connecting the Greek port of Thessaloniki to the Rhine-Main-Danube waterway axis has been on the drawing board since the end of the 19th century. Serbia recently came a step closer to the realisation of this long-term project, thanks to Chinese support for the construction of the Morava Canal.

Milan Bacevic, the Serbian minister of natural resources, mining and spatial planning, and Rhen Xiengu, chairman of the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), signed an agreement to commission a feasibility study for the Morava Canal at the beginning of this year. The new inland waterway could link the river Morava with the Rhine-Main-Danube, Oder-Vistula and Seine-Rhone river systems via the Danube, and simultaneously also create a useful connection to the ­Aegean Sea.

Bacevic believes the project will not only be good for Serbia’s agricultural businesses, its energy industry and the tourism sector, and is convinced that the entire Balkan region will also benefit greatly from such a development of the regional infrastructure.

Early in October the partners  released the positive results of the above-mentioned study, which was compiled by engineers working for CGGC. That company was also in charge of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in the People’s Republic of China. This is one of the reasons why Serbia expects to see innovative solutions proposed for the building of the 655 km waterway.

The project presents quite a few challenges, not least on account of height differentials, but also offers opportunities to set up five hydroelectric power stations. However, the Chinese may not only play a large role in constructing the canal, but could also prove to be crucial to its financing. Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic recently visited China to hold talks with potential investors. The Serbian government has estimated the overall costs for the extension of both the river Morava in Serbia and the river Vardar in Macedonia and Greece, and for the construction of a link between the Morava and the Vardar at about USD 15 billion (EUR 11 billion).



The Morava Canal

The construction of an inland waterway linking the Danube and the Aegean Sea has repeatedly been discussed for more than 100 years. The first concrete plans were drafted in the 1960s and 1970s in the unified Yugoslavia as it then was. In the 1980s the undertaking was shelved, however. Now it has started to take a realistic shape again since the beginning of this year.





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