EIB ready to help Bulgaria build Danube bridge

SOFIA, Feb 11, 2000 -- (Reuters) The European Investment Bank (EIB) said on Thursday it was ready to help Bulgaria fund construction of a second bridge over the Danube river as a link to Romania, accommodating traffic between east and western Europe.

"The Danube bridge is a (Bulgarian government) priority that we are ready to support immediately," EIB Director for Central and Eastern Europe Walter Cernoia told a news conference.

Bulgaria's Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the EIB will finance half of the construction. The bank is ready to seek donors for the rest of the required funding, which is expected to total $120 million with a further $35 million needed for the bridge's infrastructure, he added.

Bulgaria and Romania, due to start talks on EU membership next week, agreed to build the second bridge earlier this week.

Romania, which insisted that a new bridge should be built only when economically viable, has said it would not provide any money for the bridge.

Since 1991 the EIB has financed 13 projects in Bulgaria totaling 700 million euros, 18 percent of which have been private, said a statement of the Bulgarian finance ministry.

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