January 31, 2018 / 5:43 PM / 21 days ago

Serbia borrows 134 million euros from EIB for southern railway

BELGRADE, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Serbia said on Wednesday it had borrowed 134 million euros ($166.91 million) from the European Investment Bank to revamp its aging rail link between the southern city of Nis and the Bulgarian border.

Another 73 million euros would be donated by the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) and the government would contribute 61.2 million euros, Infrastructure Minister Zorana Mihajlovic told a panel in Belgrade.

The 82km (51-mile) line is part of a pan-European corridor linking Western Europe and Greece, Mihajlovic said.

As part of an effort to overhaul its infrastructure, Serbia last year borrowed $297.6 million from China’s Exim Bank to modernise another key stretch of railway between its capital Belgrade and the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

Serbia and its former federal partner Montenegro are tentatively expected to join the EU by 2025. Ex-Yugoslav republics Slovenia and Croatia have already joined the bloc. Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Kosovo are lagging behind.

The EIB, which is owned by EU member states, has lent Serbia more than 5 billion euros since 2000.

The WBIF was established in 2009 by the European Union and bilateral donors to support the Western Balkans countries of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

$1 = 0.8028 euros Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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