JULY 23 2012 21:54h
The transport ministers of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sinisa Hajdas Doncic and Damir Hadzic respectively, agreed at a meeting in Zagreb on Monday to set up expert teams to draft an agreement on a transport corridor through the Bosnian coastal town of Neum by the end of October, in accordance with consultations on this issue that had been held between Croatia and the European Commission.
Addressing the press after the meeting, Hajdas Doncic said that the joint negotiating position reached by Croatia and the European Commission was that the issue of a transport corridor through the Neum area could only be resolved by a bilateral agreement between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would include Croatia's transport sovereignty in the corridor.
"This is also Croatia's starting position. This is not just about connecting the territory of Croatia, but also that of the European Union," Hajdas Doncic said.
Hajdas Doncic said that the Croatian government was trying to resolve the issue of connecting Croatia's southernmost tip with the rest of the country as soon as possible, but certainly before July 1, 2013 when Croatia is due to join the European Union. He added that Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic was in Brussels today to discuss this issue.
Hadzic, too, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina wanted the issue to be dealt with through dialogue. He said that the agreement on the transport corridor through Neum should also define the unobstructed use of the nearby Croatian port of Ploce by Bosnia and Herzegovina. He noted that the port of Ploce was oriented towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and that without its industries the port could hardly ensure profitable operations.
"We believe that a solution can be reached soon. We accept the EU's mediation and in that way we want to confirm our complete commitment to helping Croatia. We don't want to act like Slovenia," Hadzic said.
Hadzic pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina's proposal was not conditional. "This doesn't mean that if there's no agreement on the port of Ploce, there will be no agreement on the Neum corridor," he said, adding that his country wanted to develop its economy through the unobstructed use of the port of Ploce.
Speaking of Croatia's plan to connect its territory by building, with financial support from EU funds, a bridge between the mainland and the Peljesac peninsula in order to bypass Neum, Hadzic said that the construction of the bridge would presuppose resolution of issues relating to the state border and compliance with international conventions, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"We don't doubt that it may be in Croatia's interest to begin the construction of the Peljesac bridge in the future, but I don't think it would be wise for the government, especially a serious government such as the one of Prime Minister Milanovic, to lay the foundation stone for the Peljesac bridge for the third time," Hadzic said, to which Hajdas Doncic added: "That will certainly not happen."
"The sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina must not be endangered in any way, just as on the other hand Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn't wish to endanger the sovereignty of any other country," the Bosnian minister said.
The two ministers also discussed construction of bridges over the border between the two countries, such as those over the River Sava at Svilaj and Gradiska. (Hina)