The Slovenia Times

Ministerial Slow Motion: "We Can Apply for EU Funds for Second Railway Track to Koper Next Year"



While the 26 February deadline for applications for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) tender is being mentioned as a breaking point for the EUR 1.35bn project, Gašperšič said that the financial construction remains to be determined.

Several options are being considered, "the most direct one" being the one presented by economists Aleš Groznik and Jože Damijan, and the government will decide eventually which route to take, the minister said.

He rejected views that EU funds will be forfeited if the deadline is missed, saying other projects are ready that are suitable for EU funding.

The application for the second Koper-Divača track "can also be submitted next year". This is better than "starting the project only to find out later that we cannot cover it financially", like in the TEŠ 6 energy project.

Gašperšič expects the building permit could be secured by the end of the year, soon after which construction could begin.

Asked whether port operator Luka Koper and railways operator Slovenske železnice, which are both state-owned, would need a strategic partner, the minister said this could be useful in both cases.

"There is a lot of interest and it would be unwise if this opportunity was not used," he said, pointing to the expanded possibilities at the port after the railway upgrade and the help the railways could get in the expansion to new markets, especially with a partner for cargo transport.

He is in principle also not against the idea of merging Luka Koper and Slovenske železnice into a logistics holding, which was already attempted unsuccessfully in the past, while he understands fears at the port related "to the not exactly stellar results of the railways in the past".

Turning to the plans to privatise flag carrier Adria Airways, the minister said he would wish for a buyer that would expand the company's operations and provide it with "a stable and reliable environment".

"I hope that such a partner will come, but we know the airline industry is experiencing tough times."

As to the development of the aeronautical industry in Slovenia in general, he said that Slovenia's international air connections were "very poor and substantial progress is needed here".

He hopes Maribor airport will be upgraded in line with plans, while the landing strip in Portorož at the coast also needs to be extended.


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