Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic says he expects the construction of the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) and railway investment will improve economic cooperation in the Western Balkans and should be regarded as a regional priority.
He was addressing the Western Balkans Investment Summit at the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London.
Markovic told the event: “From Montenegro’s standpoint, a priority regional project is the Adriatic-Ionian Corridor, as well as the modernisation and expansion of railway infrastructure as a prerequisite for better economic integration and movement of people and goods, and linking to European corridors.”
Markovic said it was important to strengthen economic cooperation to reinforce stability of the region, simplify operations and boost growth.
Montenegro’s economy minister, Dragica Sekulic, added: “In addition to good cooperation we have in the field of tourism, energy cooperation between Montenegro and Azerbaijan is of strategic economic importance for us,” she said. “Energy is one of the main pillars of development of Montenegro and in this field we’ve been implementing and we plan to implement several important strategic projects.”
She said the IAP project would match the maritime electrical power cable between Montenegro and Italy in terms of importance to the tiny ex-Yugoslav republic’s economy.
“All our relevant documents and studies prove that the best way for Montenegro to be gas-supplied is through the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline and the valorisation of its gas reserves from the Adriatic Sea. The IAP project will not only bring natural gas to Montenegro, but will link it with other countries of the region and enable natural gas, which is likely to be found in our offshore, be transported further to Western Europe,” Sekulic said in London.
“Security of supply has been, for number of years now, the focus of European institutions, and diversification of sources of natural gas certainly one of the priorities,” the minister said.
“As for Montenegro, where natural gas infrastructure is currently not developed, it is estimated that Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline, an integral part of the Southern Gas Corridor, is the only reliable and viable source of natural gas and all our efforts and activities in this field are directed towards speedy development of this project,” she added.
The IAP is due to link Albania with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina and then the port of Split in Croatia. It is due to link to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is under construction to bring gas from Azerbaijan and compete with Russian supplies.
The TAP is due to have a capacity of 5 billion cubic metres per year.
After a decade of discussions, implementation is due to start this year with a new company due to oversee the project set up from existing firms operating gas services in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, in cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Montenegro is ideal for hydro and solar power. Picture credit: Wikimedia