WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Top Polish leaders on Saturday celebrated the opening of a new — albeit unfinished — canal that they say will mean ships will no longer need to obtain permission from the Russia to sail from the Baltic Sea to the ports of the Vistula Lagoon.
The event was timed to mark 83 years since the Soviet invasion of Poland in World War II and to symbolically demonstrate the end of Moscow’s right to the economy and development of a region that borders the Russian enclave. from Kaliningrad. The government says the waterway gives Poland full sovereignty in the northeast region, which needs investment and economic development.
“The idea was to open this waterway and no longer have to ask permission from a country that is not a friend and whose authorities do not hesitate to attack and subjugate others,” the president said. Polish Andrzej Duda.
He said the investment will bear fruit through the increase in the value of the land around it, through the development of cities and ports on the lagoon through increased trade, business and tourism.
A few thousand people carrying white and red national flags gathered in the rain to watch the technical vessel Zodiak II pass through the floodgates to inaugurate the canal. The national anthem was played and the ships blew their horns.
Small ships and yachts are expected to be allowed entry on Sunday.
The leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the crowd it was ‘the start of Poland’s fourth major port (Elblag) and a new impetus for the development of this land’ that will reduce unemployment , which is among the highest in Poland. levels now at 7.6%.
Kaczynski stressed that the construction of the canal shows that “Poland is a truly independent, sovereign and strong nation that matters. “
The canal, built at a cost of nearly 2 billion zlotys ($420 million), crosses the tip of the Vistula, east of Gdansk, to allow ships to navigate from the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Gdansk towards Elblag and the small ports of the lagoon without obtaining permission to cross the Russian Strait of Pilawa. It also shortens the Baltic-Elblag route by about 100 kilometers (54 nautical miles).
However, freighters cannot use the passage until the approach to Elblag Harbor is deepened to 5 meters (16 ft). The works are expected to cost 100 million zlotys ($21 million), which is a source of controversy between the national government and municipal authorities.
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