Turkey, EU to hasten transport cooperation

The European Union said on Monday it is "fully supportive" of the completion of a railway line between Turkey and Bulgaria.

After a meeting at the EU-Turkey High-Level Transport Dialogue in Brussels, Turkish Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan and EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc held a news briefing.

Pointing to the Halkali-Kapikule railway line, an ongoing project to link Istanbul to the border crossing with Bulgaria, Bulc said: "This project has clear European added value and plays an important role in long-distance connectivity between Europe and Asia through Turkey."

Arslan said Turkey and the EU were "determined" to finalize the project, which would benefit all EU member states connected to Asia.

Both transportation chiefs also said they had established a "positive agenda" on cooperation.

The railway project started in 2008 with an EU financial contribution as part of the TEN-T, Trans-European Transport Networks plan.

According to the Turkish government program in 2007, the project amounted to Euros 646 million ($772 million).

When the project concluded, it will directly connect Turkey to the TEN-T rail network through Bulgaria.

"Transport clearly is an area of common interest for the EU and Turkey," the EU commission said early Monday in a statement.

EU accession talks began in 2005. To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

In 2011, we successfully concluded technical discussions regarding Turkey-Europe networks, which are the negotiating chapter 21, Arslan said earlier this year.

The chapter under the responsibility of our ministry is technically ready to be closed," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency