Mayor Yannis Boutaris yesterday presented the Thessaloniki city council with a proposed project for a navigable canal for freight transport that would connect the rivers Danube-Morava-Axios.
Boutaris was briefed about the proposed project by the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Gjorge Ivanov, during his recent visit to Skopje, amidst feverish efforts to resolve the name dispute between the two countries.
“The president of FYROM gave me a video that depicts his dream to create a canal,” Boutaris told the council.
Ivanov told him that the Chinese have begun to study the project and have measured the shallow areas and the required length of ships that would cross the rivers.
The grandly ambitious project is a Chinese initiative that is designed to bring Chinese products closer to central and northern Europe
Northern Europe 1,200 kilometres closer
The cost of construction of the Danube-Morava-Axios canal with Thessaloniki as the final destination, is estimated at about 17 billion US dollars.
The envisioned canal would be bigger than the Rhine-Maina canal in Germany, the Rhône à Sète canal in France, and the Odra-Visla canal in Poland.
Here, the navigable routes would reach the Danube and continue south via the Morava River, ending in Thessaloniki’s Thermaic Gulf.
The project would bring northern Europe 1,200 kilometres closer to the Aegean and would take six to seven years to complete.
The project also provides for the construction of hydroelectric energy plants along the length of the navigable route.
Investors from a number of countries have already expressed an interest in participating in the project, including China, the US, Germany, Russia, FYROM, and Greece.