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Moldova opens first passenger river port


CHISINAU, March 17 (RIA Novosti) - Moldova's first passenger port, in the southernmost village of Giurgiulesti on the Danube River, was inaugurated on Tuesday by the country's president.

The terminal, designed to handle 300 passengers per day, is part of the International Free Port Complex, which has been under construction since 2005 and is funded by Belgian and Azerbaijani investors.

The first passenger vessel Princess Yelena left Giurgiulesti for Istanbul. The vessel will be operating the route once a week.

"Thanks to the Giurgiulesti port complex, Moldova has gained access to the sea through the Danube River and has access to all the coastal countries of the region," Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said at the opening ceremony.

The president said the "port has changed Moldova's image abroad and also its geopolitical status, as it has become a maritime country."

The complex also houses a $35 million oil terminal and a $12 million grain terminal, which will start operation in the near future. A shipping-container terminal is also under construction.

The construction of an airport and an industrial park, as well as a highway linking Giurgiulesti with the rest of the country, is also on the agenda, Voronin added.

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