Peljesac bridge politically divides two countries

Peljesac bridge politically divides two countries

The bridge on the Croatian territory, which will connect the Peljesac peninsula and Dubrovnik with the rest of Croatia without borders, caused a large discontent among Bosniak politicians in BiH.

The problem is that Croatian territory is broken on the coast line where the BiH city of Neum is located. These 25 kilometers of coast is the reason that politicians in BiH, absolutely legally, declared this mostly continental state as “mediterranean”. The bridge, as they declared, will break the exit of BiH to the open sea, which is the state’s right according to all conventions and international maritime laws. In fact, Bosniak politicians claimed that the bridge must be high enough that the big ships will be able to approach Neum, since the plan is to build a harbour. On the other side, Croatians say that Neum aquatorium is not suitable for harbour since it, in fact, is the end of shallow a bay. After Croatian PM, Andrej Plenkovic, a few days ago, stated that the construction of the bridge will start soon despite the voices from BiH, Bosniak member in the BiH Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, stated that it would be incorrect to assume that Bosnia was against the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, but the state just wants to “be a good neighbour to Croatia, while expecting the same from that country”.

“We should not create problems to each other or violate each other’s rights”, Izetbegović said.

He added that Croatia has the right to connect the territory and BiH has the right to have access to international waters. Izetbegovic expressed the hope that Croatia will move in that direction. What he didn’t say is the manner to which the problem will be solved, given that he and other Bosniak politicians in BiH several times in the past have stated that they will “stop the construction of the bridge as it was planned and demand a higher bridge on that part”.

At the same time, BiH Minister of civil affairs, Adil Osmanovic, Bosniak by nationality, sent a letter of protest to EU and Croatian officials saying that there are many legal obstacles for the construction of the bridge. Another minister in BiH Council of Ministers, Minister of Justice, Josip Grubesa, a Croat, sent a letter at same addresses saying that there are no legal obstacles for the construction of the bridge. BiH Presidency Chairman, Dragan Covic, a Croat, said that Osmanovic’s letter doesn’t reflect the official position of the BiH and that such conversation within BiH and with fiend countries, as Croatia, harms everybody and must be stopped.

“We must protect BiH’s interests by defining common interests first, and then communicating about them to the neighbors and international institutions”, Covic said.

BiH Council of Ministers Chairman, Denis Zvizdic, said that the negotiations about border demarcation with Croatia have been reduced to the issue of Peljesac bridge construction.

“We are talking about a comprehensive demarcation between BiH and Croatia, with focus on demarcation at sea that is in the interest of BiH, which means respect of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”, Zvizdic said.

Serb politicians in BiH are not taking part in this dispute since it is far away from their interests. Republic of Srpska Government have the interest on the other side of the country, also linked with bridge construction but, in this case, they are trying to push Croatia to start the works. The RS problem is that this BiH entity has constructed a highway from Banja Luka to the city of Gradiska, on the BiH-Croatian border. But, this highway ends in the field near the River Sava. It is necessary to negotiate the construction of a bridge over Sava river with Croatian Government in order to link this highway with the near Zagreb – Belgrade highway.

But although construction of this bridge is uncertain, construction of the Peljesac bridge is close to begin./IBNA