The Mayor of Užice, Jovan Marković, has started the initiative for construction of Požega-Višegrad highway, 90 km long. Milorad Dodik, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska, supports his idea and the two of them have recently talked about that in Banja Luka. The value of the investment is estimated at about 250m EUR, and the money should be provided by the governments of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska.
That junction, which was a part of the network of "emperor's roads" at the time of Austria-Hungary's rule, may become the desired communication corridor of the people who live in the area alongside the Drina river, as well as a good way for reestablishment of former successful connections. On the other side, it may prevent people from moving out from the Drina's banks, which witnessed sorrow and poverty in the recent past.
The experts suggested two variants for construction of the highway between Požega and Višegrad. The first one, which is supported by Marković and Dodik, would go from Požega, through Užice, Kotroman and Višegrad, to the foot of Romanija mountain. The second variant is that the road goes from Požega and Užice, through Bajina Bašta, Fahovići, Han Pijesak, to the foot of Romanija mountain.
- The position of Užica, economic, tourist and other potentials of the whole region, as well as joint heritage, represent the opportunity for connecting people in that area - the Mayor of Užice, Jovan Marković, told "Danas".
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska, Milorad Dodik, says that that project is a "great development chance for both Serbia and the Republic of Srpska, that is, Bosnia and Herzegovina".
- Construction of the highway will ensure realization of joint projects in the fields of energy, tourism, agriculture, economy and cross-border cooperation. That means that the Drina river is not going to the place that separates, but connects people who live in this area - the Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska, Milorad Dodik, told "Danas".
Reminding that the traffic communication with Belgrade and central Serbia, and the rest of the world, represents one of the biggest problems in the development of Užice and the Zlatibor region and that the construction of Belgrade-Požega highway will start in March 2010, Marković is of the opinion that it is the opportunity for commencement of realization of the idea of construction of the highway section between Požega and Višegrad.
- My opinion is that the time has come for the new generation of politicians and entrepreneurs to offer some new solutions for more secure future and better life of the people who live in the area alongside the Drina river. We suggest that the extension of the highway to Montenegro should be built through Užice and across Zlatibor mountain, but construction of the section between Požega and Višegrad, through Užice, is also of great importance - says the Mayor of Užice. He then explains that the municipalities that will cooperate on that project in the future are Višegrad, Rogatica, Pale, Sokolac, Foča,
Goražde, Požega, Čajetina, Bajina Bašta, Priboj, Nova Varoš,
Prijepolje, Loznica and others, and that he expects the governments of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska not only to support the initiative, but also to enable its realization.
- The highway must be the matter of national importance and I am sure that our initiative will be backed by the Government of Serbia. Since connection of two countries is exceptional significance, the amount of investments in that project should not be an obstacle - says Marković.
- This initiative can not be found bad by anyone who is benevolent. It does not take anything from anybody, while it can offer so much. If Serbia decides not to invest additional money in roads and development of tourist and economic potentials in this area, then the people will seek the chance for better life in some other location - says Marković whose initiative has also been backed by Popović, the Mayor of Višegrad.
- Construction of that junction will connect Višegrad with Serbia, as well as Europe. We will become a more attractive tourist destination because we have plenty to offer in tourism, and such junction will also attract foreign investors, which will be good not only for Višegrad, but also for the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina - Popović told "Danas".
Crisis will pass- If we fail to use the time that comes for starting such initiatives and taking the responsibility, we will find ourselves in a tragic position in five or ten years. We must build highway, airport Ponikve, free trade zone and tourist railway, as well as resolve public utility problems of the city. Maybe the time is not right for big projects, but if we don't do that now, we will regret it later. Maybe it is true that I'm taking some risks, but I am of the opinion that the man has to do everything he can. On the other hand, we are offered the possibility to use European funds, and I am sure that the crisis will not last forever - says Jovan Marković, the Mayor of Užice.
In addition to the fact that it will connect the citizens of two countries, possible continuation of construction of the highway from Višegrad to Herceg Novi and Dubrovnik, via Trebinje, which is being intensively considered, would be Belgrade's closest link to South Adriatics. That route is almost the same as the railway route that once connected Belgrade, Sarajevo and Dubrovnik. On the other hand, it is almost identical to the plans for construction of roads on that territory at the time of Austria-Hungary's rule, which were also known as "emperor's roads". Marković says that the construction of such junction should be of interest to the whole region, as well as a response to all earlier differences that led to the conflicts, so that he would discuss the idea with the representatives of the municipalities on both sides of the Drina, as well as with the Mayor of Dubrovnik.
(Note: complete text is taken over from newspaper "Danas" of November 30th, 2009)