The 28,2km-long section will shorten travel times at motorway 'Friendship' by 25 minutes. Over 700,000 vehicles are expected to annually pass through this motorway, while faster and safer travel will contribute to economic development and increased cooperation in the region and its integration with the European market, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Minister of Transport and Communications Goran Sugareski, Director General for Enlargement at the European Commission Christian Danielsson, and Greek Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Christos Spirtzis.
Today's ceremony marked the launch of campaign "EU for You" over investments in transport infrastructure.
"Networking is the basic step towards equaling our regional standards with the ones of the EU, because all roads lead to it. This highway is literally one of them. This section of motorway 'Friendship' incorporates the sincere story of support and cooperation," said PM Zaev.
EC official Danielsson said the new motorway will facilitate movement, stimulate economic development and secure a sustainable and safer journey for companies and citizens.
"The motorway's construction was truly a complex endeavor with regards to the geology, including the construction of numerous tunnels, viaducts etc. This project shows how domestic and Greek companies can work together," said Danielsson.
Minister Sugareski said Macedonia now has a modern and safe motorway section, planned and built in accordance with European norms and standards related to environmental and safety standards.
"Demir Kapija-Smokvica was, in technical terms, the most difficult section to built along Corridor X, going through the Demir Kapija gorge and the restrictive mountainous area. This state-of-the-art motorway is built in line with global and European standards," added Sugareski.
The highway cost stands at EUR 218 million for construction and additional EUR 10 million for supervision, of which EUR 70 million provided by the EU, while the remaining funds were secured from loans allocated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), as well as EUR 6 million from the national budget.
Greek company "Aktor" is the motorway contractor, which is currently under investigation by the Special Prosecutor's Office for being favored at the tender related to the project, but also suspected of money laundering.