- BBC News World
It is celebrated in Croatia as one of the most important landmarks in the country’s history.
After a long wait, the bridge connecting the southern coastal regions to the rest of the country on the Adriatic Sea has been opened to traffic.
Until now, the Croats had to pass through the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina to make this journey.
Pelissak Bridge, 2.4 kmIt was built by a Chinese company although the bulk of it was financed by the European Union.
The festivities continued throughout Tuesday. Before allowing traffic over the radiant white structure, 250 runners walked across the bridge.
Several neighbors also took the opportunity to walk along the first section, while small boats bearing Croatian flags sailed under the six pillars supporting the structure.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent a video message to the ceremony.
His Croatian counterpart, Andrej Plenkovic declared: “Tonight we unite Croatia!” They described the bridge as a necessity, not a luxury.
After the glittering party filled with fireworks and ship horns, the first car to cross the bridge was to be the Rimac Never, a Croatian-made high-quality electric sports car.
The European Union has agreed to fund 85% of the bridge in the amount of 357 million euros ($361 million) Use of cohesion funds that will significantly improve the daily lives of Croats.
It also financed access roads, tunnels, and other infrastructure.
A country divided into two
When the former Yugoslavia was divided and Croatia became independent in 1991, the new border meant that two parts of the Croatian coast were divided by a 9-kilometre-long section of the Bosnian coast known as Neom Corridor.
Access to the Bosnian coast dates back to 1699, when Dubrovnik ceded Neum, in present-day Croatia, to what was then the Ottoman Empire.
Since Bosnia is not in the European Union and Croatia, anyone wanting to travel north from the medieval city of Dubrovnik on the southern coast of the Adriatic, or cross from the Peljesac Peninsula to the mainland, had to go through Two border controls.
Now you can drive straight along the Croatian Adriatic coast over the new bridge.
The mayor of Neum, Dragan Jorkovic, told a local Bosnian TV channel that the new bridge will reduce traffic on the coast during the summer months, and emphasized that he sees benefits only in this infrastructure.
However, some businessmen and traders are concerned about the potential negative impact on the region’s economy.
Many tourists, especially Czechs, Poles and Germans, are regular visitors to Neum, where prices are cheaper than Dubrovnik, but that may now change.
The bridge was not without controversy either.
Bosnia initially complained that it would affect their access to the sea, so Croatia agreed to increase the height of the bridge to 55 meters.
The Chinese state-owned company that won the contract to build it, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), bid far less than its European competitors in the bid.
This prompted an Austrian company to file a complaint, claiming CRBC was doing it dumping He received the help of the Chinese state.
The Xinhua News Agency indicated that the opening of the bridge is expected to deepen mutual trust and expand cooperation between Croatia and Beijing.
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