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Long-running spat erupts again as initial work begins.1 August 2018
For those driving down the Croatian coast to visit Dubrovnik, a striking pearl perched on the Adriatic Sea, the potential complications of the journey are well-known. Beyond all the tourist traffic that can stall the best-laid plans, every car must travel through a small stretch of Bosnia, requiring two series of passport controls.
For years, Croatians have dreamed of easing the passage to the south, and, this week, construction has finally started on the Peljesac Bridge, but not without opposition. Some of Bosnia’s leaders say the bridge is a direct infringement of Bosnia’s sovereignty, as Balkan Insight reports.
The main complaint is that the location of the bridge will prevent ships from accessing Neum, the country’s only seaport, and effectively cut off Bosnia’s access to the sea.
Nermin Niksic, leader of the Bosnian Social Democratic Party, said that Croatia “systematically continues to relativize and jeopardize the subjectivity, interests, and rights of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
A potential case for legal action is being considered by Bosnia, Balkan insight writes. In September 2017, Bosnia’s parliament officially objected to the proposed bridge, calling for Croatia to suspend its activities.
The selection of a Chinese company to build the bridge has also brought its share of controversy. The China Road and Bridge Corporation, a state company, was chosen as the contractor – to the chagrin of its competitors, who said the selection clashed with European Union rules, according to The Associated Press.
The EU is providing around 85 percent of the financing for the bridge, which is projected to cost 540 million euros ($630 million).
Previous attempts to build the bridge have faltered as a result of political reasons and Croatia’s economy, still one of the weakest in the EU.
Construction is expected to be finished by mid-2021.
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