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Construction on new bridge linking Türkiye, Greece to begin this year

The construction of a new bridge connecting the border gates of Türkiye and Greece near the Maritsa (Meriç) River is expected to commence this year, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported Sunday.

The bridge to be built over the river would link the two neighboring countries between the Ipsala border gate in Türkiye and the Kipi border gate in Greece.

Yunus Sezer, the governor of Edirne province, which borders Greece, along with other officials, inspected the area where the bridge will be constructed and said the project would accelerate the crossings between the border gates.

The Turkish part of the bridge, nearing completion in the project works, will be constructed by the General Directorate of Highways, while the Greek part will be built by the Greek government.

The construction of the new 811-meter (2,660-foot) four-lane bridge, with a span over the river of 344 meters, is expected to expedite passenger and freight transportation, as the existing bridge was deemed inadequate to fulfill rising demand.

The existing two-lane bridge, built in 1958, facilitates passage over the Meriç River between the border gates but occasionally struggles to handle the increasing vehicle traffic between the two countries.

The announcement of the plans for the second bridge connecting the two neighbors and historic rivals came initially after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Athens last year, during which the two countries renewed their will to cooperate in several fields, including energy and tourism.

The two sides agreed to greenlight the deal after the creation of this structure, which was made possible by the collaboration of the Greek and Turkish governments, provided for in the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2006.

Greece and Türkiye, both NATO members, have long been at odds over issues, including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, flights over the Aegean Sea, and policies toward the ethnically divided island of Cyprus.

However, they have taken high-profile steps to improve their ties in recent years and agreed during Erdoğan’s visit to boost trade, keep communication channels open, seek military confidence-building measures to reduce tension and work on issues that have kept them apart, notably in the Aegean Sea.

At the same time, a special limited-access visa enabling Turkish travelers to visit 10 Greek islands for up to a week without applying for full access to the European Union’s passport-free travel zone was introduced recently.

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