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President: Pelješac Bridge will be Built; Is Not Directed Against Bosnia's Interests

By 17 January 2018

ZAGREB, January 17, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Wednesday there were no obstacles to the construction of Pelješac Bridge, emphasising that it was a very important development project for Croatia and posed no threat to the interests of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Pelješac Bridge is definitely not against the interests of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Grabar-Kitarović told a press conference in Sarajevo after meeting with the members of the country's collective Presidency.

She said she had informed the Presidency of the letter Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković had received from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying that from the EU's point of view there were no obstacles to the construction of the bridge.

Grabar-Kitarovic said that the purpose of the bridge was to connect the southernmost part of Croatia, which is cut off at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic sea, with the rest of the country. She added that the issue had unnecessarily turned into a problem between the two countries.

She stressed the importance of the bridge construction for the development of the Pelješac peninsula, noting that Neum would also benefit from the bridge because there would no longer be long lines of vehicles at the border crossing there.

"Pelješac Bridge is simply an internal development issue of Croatia and there are no hostile intentions here. I hope we will clear this up and resolve this issue," the Croatian president said.

The Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Dragan Čović, said that his country unfortunately still did not have a foreign policy strategy, adding that this was why problems like the one with Pelješac Bridge cropped up, with each ethnic group in Bosnia and Herzegovina seeing state interests differently.

Čović said he personally had no doubt that Pelješac Bridge was a justified project that would also benefit Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably Neum.

"Neum is a strategic interest of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We want it to remain a tourism gem, and this is exactly why Pelješac Bridge is also a strategic interest of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

Čović expressed hope that the issue would no longer be exploited for election purposes, alluding the position of the ruling predominantly Bosniak Democratic Action Party (SDA) which insists that the construction of the bridge be suspended until the border between the two countries is determined.

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