Chinese Investors the Only Remaining Hope for Port of Rijeka

Total Croatia News

Hungarians and Slovenians trying to sideline the Croatian port.

Hungary and Slovenia have agreed on a joint venture to build a second track of the railway line from the Port of Koper to Slovenian town of Divač and to construct the third pier in the Port of Koper. The Slovenian-Hungarian agreement is bad news for the Port of Rijeka in Croatia, since the main route of transport of goods to central Europe will be through Koper and towards Hungary and Austria. On the other hand, Serbia is not watching this quietly and has decided to go into construction of a double-track railway from Belgrade to the Hungarian border, so that the goods from the Greek port of Piraeus would be transported through their country, reports Večernji List on February 29, 2016.

Therefore, this is now the last chance for Croatia to prevent being isolated in the transport of goods. China has expressed interest to invest in the Port of Rijeka and the lowland railway line, and last week Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković and Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković talked with a delegation of Chinese national Commission for Development and Reform. For Croatia, it is essential to avoid the Slovenian-Hungarian deal and to reorient Hungarians towards the Port of Rijeka and the railway line to Botovo. However that will be very difficult, since Croatia and Hungary have had rather bad relations for years which culminated with the refugee crisis.

First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko met last week in Brussels with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and the main topic of discussion was the Port of Rijeka and the lowland railway line. According to reports, his proposal was rejected after Orban said that they could no longer trust Croatia since it had done nothing about the project in the past. Still, he left the door ajar so he agreed to set up a working group of HDZ and his party Fidesz to discuss the issues of the Port of Rijeka and the lowland railway line.

The last three Croatian governments are to be blamed for the situation, since they did not implement the projects of the lowland line and the new container terminal in the Port of Rijeka. The Croatian government this week presented to the Chinese delegation why Rijeka would be a better option for transport of their five million containers a year. One of the reasons is the proximity of Rijeka to the most important cities on the Mediterranean corridor and the corridor of the Rhine-Danube rivers.

The project of the new terminal is worth 1.2 billion euros, while the lowland railway line would cost 3.6 billion euros. Now it is up to Croatian politicians to do their part of the job.


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