Izetbegovic: Croatia ignored Bosnia institutions' objections

NEWS 30.07.2018 16:23
Source: N1

The start of the construction works on the Peljesac bridge while ignoring the objections of competent institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, means a flagrant violation of Bosnia's sovereign right to the access to the open sea, said Bosniak member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic.

According to Izetbegovic, who commented the announcement of the start of the Peljesac bridge construction, the Republic of Croatia has been avoiding for more than 12 years to reach a demarcation agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement, added Izetbegovic, must happen before Croatia exercises the right to link its territories and before Bosnia exercises the right to access the sea.

Some of Bosnia's state officials, including Izetbegovic, had strongly objected the bridge construction, claiming that this project would disturb Bosnia's access to international waters. In their reaction, they referred to the Bosnia's Presidency decision from 2007, demanding from Croatia to halt the project until the issue of identification of the sea boundary line and the country's access to the international waters is solved.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina does not dispute Croatia's right to exercise its rights. All we ask is that our rights, guaranteed by the UN convention, are respected,” said Izetbegovic, who claims that Bosnia's institutions took all necessary measures over the past 12 years in communication with Croatia, to protect its rights stipulated by the international law.

After he recalled of the Presidency's conclusion from 2007, Izetbegovic said this was “a uniform and clear stance of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has not been changed in other conclusions and decisions.”

According to Izetbegovic, Croatia has been informed on several occasions about this standpoint.

Work to build the Peljesac bridge had initially begun in 2007. The road link aims at ensuring the territorial continuity of Croatia by connecting its mainland with the Dubrovnik-Neretva County while avoiding crossing Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Neum Corridor.

By connecting the Croatian peninsula of Peljesac with the mainland, the bridge would span a part of the Adriatic Sea which separates the two near the Bay of Mali Ston and the Neretva Channel.

Amid political controversies with the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as financial difficulties, construction was stopped in 2012 but Croatia signed a contract with a Chinese consortium earlier this year, announcing the start of construction works in mid-July.

Despite Bosnia's stance on the matter, Izetbegovic said, Croatia applied for the European Union's funds to assist the works, telling the European Commission there was no dispute with Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding this.

“Director General of the European Commission's Regional and Urban Policy Directorate-General Marc Lemaitre wrote a note to State Secretary of the Ministry for Regional Development and the EU Funds Spomenka Djuric on September 29, 2017, in which Croatia was urged to solve the open issues with Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the construction of the mainland – Peljesac bridge, and to refrain from taking any activities that may, as a consequence, drag the EU into legal and financial obligations due to the disputes launched by the third parties. Croatia did not respond to this letter in a satisfactory way,” said Izetbegovic.

Protecting the sovereign rights of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he concluded, is a constitutional and legal obligation of all representatives and institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia's Minister of Civil Affairs Adil Osmanovic told N1 that another request to open talks on this issue will be sent to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. He added that one of the options for Bosnia and Herzegovina to solve this issue is defending its rights before the international judicial institutions.