Plans to create a navigable "corridor" of canals linking the Danube River with Thessaloniki are a "project of huge significance for Greece, Serbia and all of Europe," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras commented on Thursday, following the Greece-Serbia High Level Cooperation Council.
The project was one of the main issues discussed during the Council meeting held in Thessaloniki, while its significance was stressed by both Tsipras and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in a joint press conference held afterward.
The plan envisages linking the Axios River that flows into the sea near Thessaloniki and runs through northern Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - where it is known as Vardar - with the Morava River in Serbia, a tributary of the Danube. This will create a navigable route connecting the port of Thessaloniki and the Mediterranean with the Danube River.
The project would allow goods to be transported by ship from eastern markets to central Europe, thus generating gains in time and money. The idea dates back many years and is considered technically feasible, while in recent years it has been on the agenda of meetings between Serbia, FYROM, Greece and China, who is keenly interested in ways to transport goods to European markets faster and more cheaply.
The project was also discussed when Tsipras visited Belgrade and both leaders have presented the idea to China's leadership during visits to Beijing. It was also suggested to FYROM's government during a recent visit to Skopje by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.