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Twenty-three transport and infrastructure ministers, including Ukraine’s, met this week to begin a process that could see Eastern European transport links transformed.
The two-day meeting, which ended yesterday in Rzeszów-Jasionka, Poland, near the border with Ukraine, was to discuss plans to create transport links from the Baltic states to Greece and link Ukraine with Western Europe,.
The meeting was hosted by Poland’s minister for infrastructure, Andrzej Adamczyk, in collaboration with the OECD’s International Transport Forum (ITF).
According to an ITF spokesperson the country has effectively become landlocked as result of the Russian invasion, sliding from the 52nd most most connected country to 82nd, he said therefor road and rail links for freight had become critical.
The meeting in Poland was an effort to find new paths for freight and trade to continue and expand.
Lithuania’s transport minister, Marius Skuodis, said: “We have been talking about ways to better connect three seas, the Baltic, the Black and the Aegean; we are trying to increase connectivity and resilience for our transport systems, our people and economies.”
Discussions centred around expanding two plans, Via Carpathia and Via Baltica, both road and rail projects. Via Carpathia, which would link Klaipėda in Lithuania with Thessaloniki in Greece, was first considered in 2006 and was one of the EU Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects last year. Via Baltica will run from the Baltic states through Central Europe to Germany.
Another link expected to be developed is the so-called Middle Corridor, via rail from Asia to Georgia on the Black Sea and Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Finance for the projects has yet to be decided, but Canada has announced a C$300,000 (US$221,500) contribution to the ITF for research into the post-war rebuilding programme.
The ministers pledged to keep up the momentum for delivery of these projects, and are due to meet again in Leipzig, Germany, in May.
“Discussions [in Poland] formed have created the foundation for the Leipzig summit, which will allow for more tangible results in May,” claimed ITF secretary general Young Tae Kim.
Included in the 23 nations represented in Rzeszów-Jasionka, were the US and UK, Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic and Sweden.
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