Should Bosnia’s 5c Corridor be completed, several million tourists would pass through the country during the summer months, which would bring in significant profits for the country, Communications and Transport Minister Ismir Jusko told N1.
In September last year, Bosnia joined the Transport Union and since then “we got two billion and 300 million BAM for the Corridor,” he said.
The completion of the highway would bring millions of tourists to Bosnia and reduce the large traffic jams in Croatia.
“Imagine five million tourists leaving ten Euro in Bosnia each. Bosnia has, in the past two years, experienced a significant increase in tourism,” he said.
The Minister also touched upon a continuous issue between Bosnia and Croatia, the Peljesac Bridge, which Croatia plans to build to connect the southern Dubrovnik area with the rest of the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina cuts Croatia on the foot of the Peljesac peninsula so to drive along the coast from Split to Dubrovnik, tourists have to cross the border twice. This complicates the trip and creates traffic jams.
A bridge connecting the Croatian part of the coast with the Peljesac peninsula – which is also Croatian territory, would allow travelers to avoid the two border crossings but the bridge would also obstruct Bosnia’s access to international waters. Bosnia has protested the construction but Croatia is going ahead with it anyway.
Bosniak and Bosnian Croat political leaders have opposite views on the matter.
“We are recently seeing various reactions and statements in regard to the Peljesac Bridge but if we want to protect Bosnia’s interests, we have to protect it in a synchronized manner,” he said, referring to the different positions Bosnia’s political leaders have on the issue.
“I would like to remind that the Parliamentary Assembly has adopted a declaration, demanding that the construction of the Peljesac Bridge be stopped. Since then, nothing has happened,” he said.
He also explained that he, as a minister, could not act by himself, without an order from the Parliament.
“The last time I elaborated on everything in regard to the Peljesac Bridge, I pointed out that I will completely follow instructions. And once again I come back to this, direct communication is the only option that can bring any results,” he said, adding that the issue involves country borders, which is a competency of the Ministry if Civil Affairs.
“I personally have great relationships not only with (Croatia’s Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure) Oleg Butkovic, but also with all regional ministers. The moment I get concrete instructions, you can be sure that I will, within 24 hours, enter negotiations,” Jusko said.
Touching upon tourism again, Jusko said that as of May 29 no Chinese and Bosnian citizens will need a visa to travel to each other’s countries. This is a positive development, he said, as “the number of Chinese tourists in Bosnia has grown by 130 percent.”
The next step should be an air travel agreement, he said.
“We have appointed representatives to work on this and initially the travel line should be Beijing – Belgrade – Sarajevo,” he explained.
The problem Sarajevo’s International Airport has with fog every winter has also been partly solved, the Minister said.
“The airport staff worked on this issue for a long time, now they have a system which clears the fog with gas,” he said, adding that “nearly 70 percent of flights can now take off and land.”