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Plenkovic, Li say Peljesac bridge symbolises Croatia-China-EU cooperation

Zagreb, Croatia (PortSEurope) April 16, 2019 – Last week Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited the building site of the Peljesac Bridge, where Plenkovic said that the bridge will remain a permanent monument to the first few years of Croatia’s EU membership

The leaders symbolically lowered into the sea the last and biggest pylon from the first construction phase, the biggest of the 150 that will constitute the centre of the bridge, after which they unveiled a plaque to commemorate the completion of the first construction phase.

The bridge is being constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and the EU is covering 85% of the costs. Together with access roads, the bridge is worth €520 million ($588.17 million), will be 2.5 kilometres long and 55 metres tall and have four lanes.

“The rain outside is falling harder and harder,” Li said commenting on the weather. “This sends a message to our company’s builders that the bridge must withstand all weather conditions. We in China say that after the rain comes a rainbow, so the bridge, once it’s built, will be a rainbow on Earth, and the Chinese builders can celebrate such a miracle with their Croatian friends.”

Li arrived in Croatia after an EU-China summit in Brussels and said the Peljesac Bridge project was important for China’s cooperation with the EU.

Plenkovic said the bridge was especially important for Croatia “because its realisation will represent a permanent monument, in the most visible sense, to the first few years of Croatia’s European Union membership.

He said that construction-wise the bridge was one of the most important bridges built in Europe over the past decade. “It’s worth noting that the total weight of the bridge is 80,000 tonnes of steel (which) means it will weigh as ten Eiffel Towers.”

“This shows what kind of endeavour this is and what capabilities the CRBC has when it’s planting these pylons which, at 130 metres, are practically among the longest in the history of bridge-building in the world,” Plenkovic said, reiterating that this project gave China-Croatia cooperation an entirely new dimension.

After visiting the construction site, the two prime ministers and their delegations returned to Dubrovnik for possible bilateral meetings with some of the 15 prime ministers of central and east European countries participating in the 16+1 initiative, which will hold a summit in Dubrovnik on Friday.

After the Peljesac bridge, the next big Croatian-Chinese project could be the modernisation of the Zagreb-Rijeka railroad and Croatian seaports, it was reported in Zagreb.

Separately, last week the two leaders issued a joint statement pledging to increase “new Silk Road” cooperation in transportation, logistics and other areas after they met in Croatia’s capital Zagreb.

The two leaders witnessed the exchange of six bilateral cooperation agreements in agriculture, tourism, technology, sports, and the digital sector. Croatia will also promote the participation of its companies in joint projects with China within the frameworks of the new Silk Road initiative, China-CEEC cooperation and Croatia’s Three Seas Initiative.

Li reiterated China’s willingness to develop relations with Croatia under the framework of the European Union (EU) and coordinate Croatia’s development strategies with China’s Belt and Road Initiative so as to forge “diamond-like” bilateral ties.

The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative – BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities, and cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road routes.

Source: Government of Croatia

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