The Danube and Aegean Waterway Is Now Back in the News

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Aug. 28, 2017 (EIRNS) -- The proposed waterway that would link the Danube River with the Aegean Sea is back in the news with a feature article in the Greek daily {Kathimerini,} pointing to Chinese interest in the project. This is the same project that the Schiller Institute has been supporting over the past seven years.

        Thessaloniki correspondent Stavros Tzimas wrote, "An ambitious project being considered to establish a vertical link between the Danube, Europe's second-longest river, and Greece's Aegean coast by a navigable route via the rivers Morava and Vardar/Axios, may seem like a prospect of colossal proportions by European standards, but its development cannot be ruled out as it would serve the interests of China, an undisputed powerhouse trader...

        "Development of what is being promoted as the New Silk Road involving land, air and sea is already in progress and the utilization of existing rivers could not be left out of the wider plan," Tzimas wrote.

        The article also points out that the project, which is supported by both Greece and Serbia, was brought up during the July visit by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Belgrade during his meetings with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Both leaders took up the issue during their recent visits to China. The Chinese have already drafted a feasibility study for the project, though it has yet to be made publc.

        Development of the new waterway would offer a transportation link from the East Mediterranean directly to the heart of Europe, via the Axios/Vardar, Morava, and Danube rivers. Cargo would no longer need to be shipped all the way to Gibraltar and from there up to the Netherlands, or be held up in the narrow Bosporus strait. The article added that the route would be three-and-a-half days shorter than that via Rotterdam and is an attractive prospect for China and other East Asian countries, which export millions of containers to European markets and Russia each year.

        According to a Serbian study, the rivers would have to be widened and deepened while canals bypassing Skopje and two Serbian cities, Nis and Kraljevo, would also be constucted. This article can be seen in the context of the upcoming Thessaloniki Internatioanl Fair, which begins on September 9 and is the most important trade fair in Greece and the greater Balkans. Last year Russia was the featured Honored Guest; this year it will be China. [DEA]