The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia has rejected as unfounded a diplomatic note penned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the announcement of the declaration of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in Croatia’s part of the Adriatic Sea.
BiH Foreign Minister Bisera Turković penned at the end of January the letter following the announcement that Croatia would declare an EEZ, stating that it endangered the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular its right to access the high seas.
In its response to Sarajevo, the Croatian Ministry stressed it saw no reason for such a reaction as no violations of international law could be detected in this case, a claim with which senior BiH officials such as current BiH Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik agreed with.
In December 2020, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman directly briefed Minister Turković on all plans for the declaration of an EEZ; Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolic briefed the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, while Dodik later said the declaration of the EEZ did not call into question the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“One should bear in mind that the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina were not violated in the process of Croatia declaring an exclusive economic zone and that the country is acting lawfully in that regard. In order to sail from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the high seas, that is, international waters, one must pass through Croatia’s territorial waters and that is clear to anyone who looks at a map, except to Turkovic,” Dodik said in an earlier comment on the note sent from Sarajevo to Zagreb on 27 January.
Based on these facts, the Croatian Foreign Ministry informed the BiH Foreign Ministry that it could not accept its note as a legitimate and official position of Bosnia and Herzegovina on that matter.
The declaration of Croatia’s exclusive economic zone takes effect on 13 February, and Croatia’s Foreign Ministry underscored that this would not affect Bosnia and Herzegovina as Croatia’s Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) has applied to it since 2003. The ZERP will now become the exclusive economic zone.
The Ministry recalled that, in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Croatia had provided unhindered access to and from the shores of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the ZERP. /ibna