New member of Bosnia and Herzegovina tripartite presidency, Zeljko Komsic of the Democratic Front (DF), said on Monday that Bosnia and Herzegovina had the right to file a lawsuit against Croatia at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg over the building of the Peljesac Bridge.
Komsic, who beat Dragan Covic of the Croatian Democratic Union BiH (HDZ BiH) for the post of the representative from the Croat people in the Presidency, gave an interview for the state broadcaster HRT, in which he said that Croatia had broken the International Law of Sea Convention.
“What does this have to do with the Peljesac Bridge? Because you use it as an argument, you refuse to define the sea border, you will not even honour the Tudjman-Izetbegovic deal on the sea border. If you respected that agreement, you would know over which sea that bridge would be built – the Bosnian sea,” he said.
The Peljesac Bridge is intended to link the Croatian mainland and the Peljesac Peninsula, bypassing a 15 kilometre-long strip around the city of Neum that represents Bosnia and Herzegovina’s only coast on the Adriatic Sea.
The bridge would cut travel time between the Dubrovnik area and the rest of the country by circumventing customs and border controls around Neum.
The project formally kicked off in July this year, with Croatia's state-owned road management company Hrvatske Ceste (HC) and the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) officially signing the handover of project documents for the construction.
Predominantly Bosniak political parties are opposing the construction of the Peljesac Bridge because they believe it might prevent large vessels from entering Bosnia's Bay of Neum, threatening Bosnia and Herzegovina's access to open sea.
According to election officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Front (DF) candidate Zeljko Komsic, Democratic Action Party (SDA) candidate Sefik Dzaferovic, and Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik have won seats on Bosnia-Herzegovina's three-person presidency.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic commented on Komsic’s statement, saying Croatia was not in breach of international law.
“There is a signed agreement from 1999 between (then Croatian) President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnia’s Presidency leader Alija Izetbegovic. The agreement has been implemented and neither side has brought that into question,” he said.
“Last year, while deciding on financing the (Peljesac Bridge) project with EU funds, Croatia explained the case to the EU authorities. The bridge enables all vessels to pass to and from Neum without any problems,” Plenkovic said, adding that the argument that Croatia was preventing Bosnia from using the Neum port did not hold water.