No legal obstacles to building Peljesac Bridge, transport minister says

ZAGREB, 07.09.2017.

Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic reiterated on Thursday that there were no legal obstacles to the construction of Peljesac Bridge and that Croatia had contracted 93% of the funds available from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

"Croatia has confirmed the right of Bosnia and Herzegovina to innocent passage through Croatian sea, territorial waters and internal sea waters for all ships sailing in and out of Neum port towards Croatia and ZERP (Croatia's Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone) as well as Article 45 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which regulates the right of innocent passage between a part of the high sea or an exclusive economic belt, in this case Croatia's ZERP, and the territorial sea of another state," Buttkovic told reporters.

He said it was indisputable that Croatia would build the bridge on its territory 500 m from the demarcation line. "Therefore there are no legal or any other obstacles to the start of construction of Peljesac Bridge and Croatia will build Peljesac Bridge."

As for the opposition of Bosniak officials to the construction, Butkovic said it was "a reflection of the internal state of affairs in the neighbouring state."

He reiterated that Croatia and Bosnia defined the technical aspects of the bridge together in 2006, at Bosnia's request, and that Bosnia wanted the bridge to be 55 m tall and the waterway 200 m wide. He said Croatia accepted the request and incorporated it in the project, adding that everything was and is done in the spirit of good neighbourly relations.

Speaking of a CEF conference taking place in Dubrovnik, Butkovic said Croatia had contracted 93% of the funds at its disposal, about EUR 450 million, for big infrastructure projects on European transport corridors. He said this was a successful example of contracting and absorbing European Union funds and voiced hope that big infrastructure projects would be launched and increase GDP.

Asked about the future of a motorway to Dubrovnik, Butkovic said his ministry was preparing for the second operational period, after 2020. He said that motorway was one of the big infrastructure projects and that an Adriatic-Ionian corridor was also a priority.