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EU Signs Deal To Help Turkey Build High-Speed Railway To Bulgarian Border

The European Union and Turkey have signed an agreement to help finance the construction of a high-speed railway line from Istanbul to the border with EU-member-state Bulgaria.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said at a joint press conference in Istanbul with Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrakhe that the EU will provide a grant of 275 million euro, or about $313 million, for the project. The total cost of the project is 1 billion euros, or about $1.14 billion dollars.

The train deal is the EU's largest single investment project in Turkey.

The railway line is meant to link Istanbul's Halkali Station to the Bulgarian border crossing point at the Kapikule-Svelingrad station.

"With the signing of this flagship railway project, EU and Turkey show once more that they can work hand in hand for the benefit of their peoples," EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said, describing Turkey as "our bridge between east and west."

Turkey has been an EU membership candidate for almost 20 years but has regressed on the bloc's benchmarks in areas such as the rule of law, citizens' rights, and media freedom since a government crackdown on dissent following a failed coup in July 2016.

Membership talks for Turkey are currently on hold with EU-member states disagreeing on whether to formally suspend the process.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa