Round table “Border infrastructure and cross-border points”

by Pylypenko Vadym

On October 4, 2021, the border regions became part of the constructive discussions and expert presentations within the Round table focused on the topic of “Border infrastructure and cross-border points” of the MOBI project implemented under the Hungary – Slovakia – Romania – Ukraine ENI CBC Programme 2014-2020.

The event was supported by the International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI” (UA), Maramureş County Council (RO) and Satu Mare County Council (RO), Self-government of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County (HU) and Košice Self-governing Region(SK)with direct participation of the representatives of border regions: Cristina Stern, Brigitta László, Mihaela Liţe, and Dominika Kovacheva. Thanks to the partner support and cooperation, the event brought an active discussion on such an important issue as “Border infrastructure and cross-border points”. The Round table was held in an on-line mode.

The meeting was opened with the welcome speeches by Cristina Stern, Satu Mare County (Romania) Mihaela Liţe, Maramureș County Council (Romania), Brigitta László, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Council (Hungary), Dominika Kovacheva, Košice self-governing region (Slovakia), and Nataliya Nosa, Executive Director of International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI” (Ukraine).

Nataliya Nosa, Executive Director of International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI”, Ukraine, stated that 4 Round Tables within the MOBI project have been already held, so that the Round Table dedicated to the topic of “Border infrastructure and cross-border points” is the last one. She then provided an overview of the previous Round Tables and discussions:

26.11.2020 – kick-off meetings in Uzhhorod initiated by International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI”;

28.01.2021 – Partnership meeting initiated by the Self-Government of the Szabolcs –Szatmár –Bereg region, Hungary;

25.02.2021 – Round Table “MOBI Aviation in the Carpathian region” in Romania, Maramures;

15.04.2021 – Round Table “MOBI Transport corridors and bicycle roads” initiated by Košice self-governing region, Slovakia;

15.06.2021 – Round Table “Financial and operational instruments” initiated by International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI”;

27.08.2021 – Round Table “Waterways in Carpathian region” initiated by Ukraine;

04.10.2021 – Round Table “Border infrastructure and cross-border points” initiated by Ukraine – today’s event.

Liudmyla Kozlovska, expert, Ukraine, presented the current situation with the border-crossing points infrastructure development. According to the data provided by the State Customs service of Ukraine there are 74 international border-crossing points in Ukraine. All these cross-border points require re-equipment and according to the Action Plan on the cross-border checkpoints, 30 of them are planned to be upgraded for the period 2021-2023. In addition, 5 new border-crossing checkpoints are planned to be build, 2 of them in Zakarpattia region: Dijda – Beregdaróc and Bila Tserkva – Sighetu Marmaţiei. She also provided some data concerning the Integrated Border Management Strategy. Thus, optimization of border control procedures with ensuring proper security level, introduction of coordination mechanism of integrative border management actors activities that ensure the appropriate cooperation, prompt response to violations at the state border beyond the border crossing points etc are expected. Liudmyla concluded that the there is a need for modern border crossing points, but first the replacement of the already existing systems for modern ones (number reading system, weight complexes, stationary scanning systems for vehicles etc.) should take place. For these purpose the Ukrainian government planned to involve more that 145 million EURO on 2022.

Mykola Pigulyak, Head of the department of the city construction and architecture of Zakarpattia Regional State Administration, Ukraine, has welcomed the participants of the Round Table and presented the position of the Regional State administration on the issue of border infrastructure. In Ukraine there is have a relevant regional policy involving Regional State Administration, and it is constantly controlling the issue of border planning. Mr. Pigulyak highlighted that Ukraine has undergone an administrative and territorial reform and therefore border crossing points are now planned and fixed with the involvement of the local territorial communities. One example is the Bila Tserkva corridor that is being planned together with Solotvyno territorial community. In addition, the communities plan their territories according to the regional planning document, i.e. a comprehensive plan of spatial planning of the communities. Mr. Pigulyak also emphasized that the aim of his report if to assure that the Regional State Administration and regional authorities is controlling the planning activities of local territorial communities, and ensures that all international treaties and various arrangements are taken into account in the form of state interests provided in local planning.

Zinovij Broyde, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, UEAN Corresponding Member, Adviser of the Head of Chernivtsi Regional State Administration, Ukraine, presented on the issue of border-crossing points between Chernivtsy oblast and Romania. The issue is that on more than 300 km of Ukrainian-Romanian border only few checkpoints function. Previously there were 9 border crossing points in the area, but there is only 1 today. These border crossing points do not coincide with the Schengen requirements and have to be reconstructed. Though, the reconstructions were agreed on Romanian side, and the possibility of the following changes was proclaimed by the program Ukraine-Romania-Moldova, the construction of these points is not finalized. In addition, there are new projects that include construction of new border crossing points – “Ruska-Ulma”,  “Shepit-Izvoarele Sucevei” with Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi on the Ukrainian side and Suceava and Maramureș on the Romanian side. Mr Broyde also briefly introduced the issue of transport corridors for freight traffic and passengers flows.

Since the Independence of Ukraine and establishing Danube cooperation with the neighbors it was underlined that there are common historic routes of the development of whole communication system in the Carpathians, and that there is a lot of possibility to restore them. Answering the nowadays challenges of new TEN-T and Rail Freight Corridor it is obvious that possibility to cross Carpathians in a short way made it a very important tool for cargo flows. He then added that under the aegis of “Green deal” and future vision of the transportation there are huge opportunities for 1520 km contrail freight traffic from/into/through HU, SK, UA, RO, PL, MD integrated with neighbor EU countries railways.

Robert Vass, external expert of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Council, Hungary, provided an overview of the border infrastructure in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County and stated that the main passenger border crossings are Záhony–Csap, Lónya–Harangláb, Barabás–Mezőkaszony, Tiszbecs-Tiszaújlak, Beregsurány–Asztély (on Ukrainian-Hungarian border) and Csengersima-Pete, Csenger – Óvári, Vállaj-Csanálos (on Hungarian-Romanian border). In addition, there are three rail border crossing points in the county: Záhony–Csap, Eperjeske and Tiborszállás. The focus of attention then fell on the issue of highways and motorways. Mr. Vass stated that in the near future one motorway and two highways in the county will reach the borders, which would further increase international mobility and would provide for the free movement of labor and international tourism.

Reinhold Stadler, expert of the Maramureș County Council, Romania, presented thecross-border system of Maramureș County. The length of Maramureș border is 164 km, which is mostly formed either by water or is surrounded by forest/ mountain areas. There are 3 border-crossing points – Solotvino Sighetu Marmației, Teresva – Câmpulung Tisa, and Valea Vişeului – Dilove. Mr. Stadler stated that the major flows of goods and passengers follow the east-west direction (Baia Mare, Satu Mare).

These links are rather strong, whereas the links between Baia Mare and Sighetu Marmaţiei are rather scarce. He also emphasized that cross-border railways are of strategic importance. Currently, there is no direct railway link between Baia Mare and Ukrainian cities, only a railway line with Sighetu Marmației. In future a new link between Poienile de sub Munte and Shibene, a bridge between Sighetu Marmației and Bila Tserkva, and 2 new crossings, near Piatra and Teceu Mic are planned. This would be extremely important for the freight, flow of goods and passenger.

Ionuţ Militaru, expert, Satu Mare County Council, Romania, shared the overview of theSatu Mare County border infrastructure and stated that there are many border crossing points in the county. Mr. Militaru presented the data concerning the number of persons who have transited the respective border crossing point. According to the data the border point Patea can support the largest amount of traffic. He then focused on the issue of railway specifics.

A detailed analysis regarding the railway transport has showed that the number of passengers decreases due to the conditions of the Romanian railways and infrastructure. In addition there is a difference between Ukrainian and Romanian gauge. Ukraine uses 1.520 mm while Romania 1.435 mm. This makes border crossing by train time consuming. Mr. Militaru has also presented his SWOT Analysis of the cross border infrastructure in Romania. It included the analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Romanian border infrastructure.

Oleksandr Kish, expert, Road service, Zakarpattia oblast, Ukraine, has greeted the participants and stated that  Zakarpattia oblast has developed several plans for the opening of new border checkpoints in the region and the restoration of existing border checkpoints. He then concentrated on the issue of perspective border checkpoints. One of them is perspective checkpoint plan with Hungary – Nagyhódos – Velyka Palad, the direction receives on the Ukrainian side with an international highway M26 and the border checkpoint Vylok – Nevetlenfalu – Dyakovo. The 11.3 kilometer section of the road leads directly to the Nagypalad checkpoint and in the future it may be possible to open a new checkpoint in the village of Nagypalad and Kispalad on the Hungarian side. In case of opening a checkpoint there is a good prospect of arranging bicycle road. Mr. Kish also added that the current available checkpoint with Romania – Solomonovo – Sighetu Marmației doesn’t meet modern requirements and require re-construction. Nevertheless, there is a perspective border development plan with Romania – Bila Tserkva – Sighetu Marmației and if the necessary document between the Romanian and Ukrainian governments will be signed a new checkpoint can be opened.

Dr. Zoltán Kovács, University of Nyíregyháza, expert from Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, Hungary, outlined that the government’s priority goal, which lies in the development of transport infrastructure. There are two territories in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County involved in the “MOBI” project – Tiszabecs-Vilok cross border point and boundary intersection point near settlement of Beregdaróc. There are five cross border points between Hungary and Ukraine that can be crossed by a vehicle, opened 24/7, and Tiszabecs is one of them, whereas Beregdaróc has a very important road to connect west and east. Mr. Kovács stated that the development of the road leading from the border to Beregdaróc is very important and would provide huge opportunity not only for Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, but also for Zakarpattia, Satu Mare and other regions. He also announced a new motorway reaching the country border is currently being planned. After the construction would be finished a new cross border point between Hungary and Ukraine will be opened.

In conclusions session, Nataliya Nosa, Executive Director of International Association of Regional Development Institutions, Ukraine, thanked all the experts and partners for their participation and professional presentations of great informative value that will be included to the baseline researches and are very important for project realization. She emphasized that it was the last Round Table within the MOBI project and that based on presentations and baseline researches, MOBI team starts to develop Mobility Plan according to the previously agreed structure after the meeting on the 11th of November. 

Press point of MOBI project.

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