Croatia’s Chinese-Built Long-Awaited Bridge Opens

Hailed as one of the biggest moments in Croatian history, a long-awaited bridge has opened that links southern coastal areas to the rest of the country.

Until now, Croatians had to cross land belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 2.4km Peljesac bridge was built by China but largely funded by the European Union.

Celebrations took place throughout the day, with 250 runners crossing the bridge and small boats with Croatian flags sailing beneath the six pylons.

Residents also took the opportunity to walk along the initial stretch of the bridge before the day culminated in a glittering firework display.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a video message at the ceremony. His Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenkovic declared “tonight, we are uniting Croatia!” and described the bridge as a necessity, not a luxury.

During the opening ceremony, a Croatian-made electric hypercar called the Rimac Nevera made the first official crossing.

The EU agreed to fund 85% of the bridge, to the tune of €357m (£300m), using cohesion funds for what it said would improve significantly the everyday lives of Croatians. It also funded access roads, tunnels and other infrastructure.

When the former Yugoslavia broke up and Croatia became independent in 1991, the new borders meant that two parts of the Croatian coastline were split by a 9km-long section of Bosnian coastline known as the Neum corridor.

Bosnia’s right to coastal access dates back to 1699, when Neum was ceded by Dubrovnik – in modern-day Croatia – to what was then the Ottoman Empire.

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