EU ‘fully supports’ completion of railway line between Turkey and Bulgaria

EU ‘fully supports’ completion of railway line between Turkey and Bulgaria

BRUSSELS - Anadolu Agency

The European Union stated on Nov. 27 that it is “fully supportive” of the completion of a railway line between Turkey and Bulgaria.

After a meeting at the EU-Turkey High-Level Transport Dialogue in Brussels, Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan and EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc spoke to the media about the Halkalı-Kapıkule railway line, an ongoing project linking Istanbul to the border with Bulgaria.

“This project has clear European added value and plays an important role in long-distance connectivity between Europe and Asia through Turkey,” Bulc said.

Arslan said Turkey and the EU were “determined” to finalize the project, which would benefit all EU member states connected to Asia.

Both officials also said they had established a “positive agenda” on cooperation going forward.

The railway project started in 2008 with an EU financial contribution as part of the TEN-T, Trans-European Transport Networks plan.

According to the Turkish government program in 2007, the project amounted to 646 million euros ($772 million).

When the project concludes, it will directly connect Turkey to the TEN-T rail network through Bulgaria.

“Transport clearly is an area of common interest for the EU and Turkey,” the EU commission stated earlier on Nov. 27.

Ankara’s EU accession talks officially began in 2005 but have in recent years ground to a halt. To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

“In 2011, we successfully concluded technical discussions regarding Turkey-Europe networks, which are the negotiating chapter 21,” Arslan said earlier this year.

“The chapter under the responsibility of our ministry is technically ready to be closed,” he added.