Durrës, Albania (PortSEurope) December 27, 2020 – Albania’s main Adriatic port of Durrës (Durres) is becoming the sea gate for land-locked Kosovo and North Macedonia with the agreed €204 million ($250.58 million) financing for infrastructure works in Albania and Kosovo from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and €77.6 million of funding from donors. The Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) pools donors’ resources
in investment grants and technical cooperation for projects supported by the EBRD finance for upgrades of key infrastructure in the Western Balkans.In the former Serbian province of Kosovo, EU funds will be invested in the construction of a key road section of the “Peace Highway” between the capital Pristina and the border crossing with Serbia at the integrated crossing of Merdare. This is the shortest transport route in the region from the port of Durrës to south-eastern and central Europe as well as to the Black Sea (via Bulgaria). In Albania, the funding is for the completion of Tirana bypass, a 21.5 km section of the Mediterranean Corridor. It will connect the road from Italy’s Adriatic port of Trieste via (ex-Yugoslav republics of) Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to Greece’s port of Kalamata in Peloponnese. It will also connect Albania’s major cities and North Macedonia to the port of Durrës. In October, the governments of Albania and Kosovo have signed an agreement for the construction of a railway line between Durrës and Kosovo capital Pristina. In July, the prime ministers of both countries agreed that Kosovo will have a customs point in Durrës, which will be administered by Kosovo as its own territory. With the new railway connection, it makes Durrës the “de facto” port of Kosovo. The two towns are over 250 km apart. In July 2019, Albania started an ambitious dredging works project to deepen and widen the basin and the access channel of Durrës port to allow access to larger, deeper-draft ships of a size of over 20,000 tonnes. It will increase the draft of the port to 10.45 metres from the current 7.5 metres and will improve the cargo handling capacities of the port. A new cruise ship terminal, as an integral part of Durres port, is also under construction. In mid-December, Albania’s Top Channel broadcaster has reported that the Albanian government and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Emaar Group signed an agreement for the latter to develop part of Durrës port into a tourist area dedicated to passengers and yachting. Also, for the transport of goods, the government plans the construction of a new port in Porto Romano. The news came as a surprise mostly due to the fact that the planned Emaar Group investment was announced at €2 billion – the highest ever foreign direct investment project in Albania’s history. No details were given about possible start of the project, funding sources, or duration of the works. The project also envisages a host of transformational investments, along the entire perimeter in front of the port, including residential complex, hotels, shopping malls, entertainment facilities, new roads and parks. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2020.