The Peljesac Bridge in Croatia, built by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), has opened to traffic.
The 2.4-kilometre bridge connects the mainland with the Peljesac Peninsula. It allows road traffic to avoid any border crossing with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is the largest transportation infrastructure project conducted by Chinese firms in Croatia, and regarded by China as a key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. What is unusual about the project, however, is that it was not funded by China, but by the European Union, with CRBC winnning a tender process.
Most of the estimated €420 million (US$431.57 million) cost was met by an EU contribution of €357 million from its Cohesion Fund, which supports investment in environmental and trans-European networks in the area of transport infrastructure.
The opening ceremony on July 26 was attended by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
The main structure is a six-tower cable-stayed bridge. Together with the connecting roads, the entire length is 3.94 kilometres.
Earlier in July, another Chinese-built project in the region was inaugurated: the central 41-kilometre Smokovac-Matesevo section of Montenegro's Bar-Boljare Highway.
The completed highway will eventually run all the way from the port of Bar to the Serbian border village of Boljare, and connect with Belgrade.
Montenegro‘s President Milo Djukanovic, Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, Charge d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Montenegro Hua Yafang and CRBC representatives attended the opening ceremony.
The highway section, financed via a US$944 million loan from Export-Import Bank of China, stretches across a mountainous territory, with 20 bridges and 16 tunnels.
It falls under the framework of the BRI and the Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries mechanism. Ervin Ibrahimovic, deputy prime minister of Montenegro, described it as the biggest, most important and most valuable infrastructure project in the country’s history.
In Serbia, Power Construction Corporation of China (PCC) completed the construction of a new section of the Belgrade bypass in June. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended the inauguration ceremony for the 3.1-kilometre motorway section, which includes a 700-metre tunnel.