The third government promised to open a border checkpoint at “Salaš”. The new point will reduce the 120 km distance from the Danubian ports to Nis and Belgrade
Source: Standard newspaper
Author: Parvoleta Tzvetkova
A road between Bulgaria and Serbia passing through the picturesque mountain passage Kadu Boaz has been a half-century dream for the residents in the border villages Salaš (Bulgaria) and Novo Korito ( Serbia). In both villages there lived close relatives because at the beginning of the last century the border used to be open. A young girl from one of the villages could easily become a bride in the other village. Even now, there are close families in the two villages who only meet for a couple of days during the border festival of good neighbors.
From 2000 onwards, the inhabitants of Salaš and Novo Korito gather in the passage every July. For the rest of the time, passing through it is prohibited. If people want to see each other, they must travel up to 200 kilometers to the border checkpoints Kalotina or Vrashka Chuka. They don’t do that. Once we used to talk throught the border rut, as strict as it was, the elder Salaš residents remember. And then, they learnt everything about each other. There was a time they decided to cooperate for land cultivation. Every household in Novo Korito used to have a tractor, and fertile fields in Salaš. Why not cultivating these together?
But that idea failed as there’s no way to pass on foreign territory.
In 2006 the people on both sides of the border got excited by the agreement signed for the opening of a border checkpoint. The agreement was signed by the presidents of both countries – Boris Tadic and Georgi Parvanov. The triple Coalition was in power with Sergey Stanishev as the Prime Minister. The checkpoint would soon be opened, the natives have been assured by the mayor of Salaš at that time Tonko Ivanov. But it’s not opened yet. MPs and Ministers calm the locals that they are working on the issue. In order for the checkpoint to be opened, roads to the passage have to be built first. It’s some 5km from the Bulgarian side – 5 km from the village Salaš to the border. 1 km from the Srpska border.
In 2009 representatives of Bulgaria and Serbia met in Belogradchik to negotiate the implementation of the agreement – the opening of these checkpoints. Both sides were convinced that the benefits should be mutual. The 120 km distance from the Danube ports to Nis and Belgrade will be decreased. For the Northern Bulgarians, that will be the better route to Central and Western Europe, and for the Serbs – to the Danube and the Black Sea. The event was attended by officials from the ministries of both countries, from travel agencies and from the Belogradchik and Knjaževac municipalities . Only automobiles, light tracks and vans have been negotiated for passing through the checkpoints. And of course – the passage of people. Heavy trucks shall not be allowed for passing. It may benefit the residents of the Bulgarian municipalities Belogradchik, Chuprene, Dimovo, Makresh and the Serbian Knjaževac, Zajecar, Bor and Negotin. The designer of the Bulgarian part of the road – Eng. Lyubomir Simeonov provides his Serbian colleagues with the documentation of the road with which they can design their own. In a month and a half, we shall announce a tender for a road contractor, a representative of the Bulgarian Road Agency declared. However, neither the tender nor its implementation followed.
We rely on this checkpoint to revive the area, the mayor of Belogradchik Boris Nikolov claims. Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to find partners in Knjaževac which could stimulate the border trade. This road is also more convenient for the tourists coming from Western Europe who to see the rocks of Belogradchik.
This borderpoint is not a priority for the next government of GERB. The government only enlists in its plans a new borderpoint with Serbia but through Chiprovtsi and Pirot. The reason for this has been given by the demands of businessmen from the free zone of Pirot for export production for Ukraine and Russia through the port of Lom. But unfortunately, this project also remained stalled.
The Government of Plamen Oresharski again brings to the fore the project for the borderpoint in Kadu Boaz passage and started again new discussions. This time it seems things will be brought to their end. Yesterday in Vidin representatives of the authorities on both sides met again to agree upon opening of the border crossing. The Bulgarian side at the table of negotations was represented by Plamen Angelov, a deputy minister of the Interior, and the Serb were represented by Ivica Tonchev, an adviser to the Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dachich on the national security.
Serbia is ready up to 85% with the infrastructure of the borderpoint. There are only 300 metres to the section of Novo Korito village to the border to be asphalted, Tonchev said.
Bulgaria must built a 5-km-long road from the village Salas to the border, the governor of Vidin Krustyo Spasov announced. At present, 55 decares of land have been evaluated – these lands are needed for the route of the borderpoint. 60% of them are municipal property and 40% is private. Two weeks ago, on a regular session, the Council of Ministers voted a resolution for the granting 2 million levs for the construction of this road. The works on this road shall start in April next year.
We shall not hinder the opening of this checkpoint in 2014, Tonchev announced.