Greece and Turkey to discuss Egnatia extension

Greek and Turkish officials are planning to meet in Istanbul next month to discuss the possibility of extending the Egnatia highway, now under construction across northern Greece, to the Turkish city. According to sources, the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has already granted the Egnatia Highway Company four loans totaling 1,580 million euros (538.7 billion drachmas), takes a favorable view of the proposal although only a fraction of the project has been completed so far. It is projected that 138 km of the highway will open to traffic next summer, bringing the total completed to about 300 of the planned 680 km from the port of Igoumenitsa to the Greek-Turkish border. Egnatia’s CEO Stavros Lambropoulos recently said the company is certain of receiving a further 700 billion drachmas through the European Union-subsidized Third Community Support Framework (CSF III) investment program, in addition to the 400 billion drachmas already absorbed through CSF II which expired last year. Speaking in Thessaloniki last week, Lambropoulos attributed delays to landslides and the reactions of agencies responsible for archeological or forest areas, but refrained from any reference to delays in the vertical road arteries. Regional officials, however, said delays in completing the relevant studies were also to blame. The company recently decided to set up an agency to monitor the effects of the project on the region as a whole, aided by the University of Thessaloniki. Negotiations on the sale of Hellenic Shipyards were extended by one week in an attempt to arrive at an improved offer from HDW/FS.

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