Saturday, 11 April 2020

Despite Coronavirus, Croatia Completing Joint Project With BiH

As Novac/Vedran Marjanovic writes on the 11th of April, 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Sava Bridge near Svilaj and the Croatia-Bosnia and Herzegovina border crossing are in the final stages of construction, the Ministry of Communications and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina announced.

''In the coming days, the testing of the bridge with a trial load, the drawing of horizontal signalling, technical inspections and the obtaining of a permit will follow,'' announced the aforementioned ministry, and their information is in accordance with plans that the bridge near Svilaj will be in use by the autumn of this year at the latest.

It should be recalled that this is a joint investment from both the Republic of Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina in the total amount of 23 million euros. Since the Svilaj bridge is part of the pan-European Corridor Vc, Croatia has, for its part of the investment, obtained European Union (EU) co-financing with a maximum allowable amount of 57.79 percent of the investment. In addition, Croatia is paying for the construction of the bridge through a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The construction of the Svilaj bridge, along with its access roads, began back on the 17th of March 2017, with the then Commissioner for Enlargement, Johannes Hann, presenting the foundation stone, along with Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic. The bridge is 660 metres long in total, 29 metres wide with three lanes in each direction which are 3.5 metres wide.

With the completion of the Svilaj bridge, Croatia will take an additional step towards completing its part of the international Vc corridor in the direction of Budapest-Beli Manastir-Osijek-Sarajevo-Ploce. The Croatian part of the corridor is the A5 Beli-Monastery-Osijek-Svilaj motorway, boasting a total length of 59 kilometres.

At a Government session held on the 25th of March this year, the Croatian Government gave the green light for the conclusion of a loan agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) of 55 million euros for the completion of the remaining Croatian share.

According to the aforementioned Government decision, the Halasica-Beli Manastir bridge section should be completed by the end of this year, regardless of the coronavirus crisis which has seen everything else grind to an unprecedented halt, while the construction of the right of way to the border with Hungary will occur in 2021 when the A5 section is fully completed.

Connecting Central Europe through the Hungarian and Croatian Danube basins with Bosnia and Herzegovina, building a modern road linking Bosnia and Herzegovina with the southern Adriatic and Ploce port, and cross-border traffic connections between Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are just some of the goals that will be achieved with the construction of the A5 motorway and the rest of this large project.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business section for much more. For more on coronavirus in Croatia, follow this section.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

HAK Confirms Temporary Closure of 20 Croatia-Bosnia Border Crossings

ZAGREB, April 2, 2020 - Following an agreement between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 20 border crossings between these two countries were closed temporarily at 7 am Thursday, the Croatian Automobile Club (HAK) said on Thursday morning.

In order to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have agreed to temporarily close 20 of their mutual border crossings as of 7am Thursday, the Croatian Police Directorate announced on Wednesday.

The traffic is thus suspended at the following border crossings: Svilaj, Gejkovac, Pašin Potok, Bogovolja, Kordunski Ljeskovac, Lička Kaldrma, Bili Brig, Aržano Pazar, Dvorine, Cera, Jovica Most, Sebišina, Slivno, Podprolog, Unka, Vukov Klanac, Imotica, Slano, Hrvatska Dubica and Gabela Polje.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Bosnia Starts Constructing New Svilaj Border Crossing to Croatia

ZAGREB, April 1, 2020 - Bosnia and Herzegovina started constructing a new border crossing to Croatia, located by the bridge over the Sava River in the village of Svilaj, near Slavonski Brod, it was announced on Tuesday by the Indirect Taxation Authority (UNO) of Bosnia.

The UNO and three Bosnian companies signed a €9.5 million contract on building the border crossing, which should be completed within 300 days.

The three companies that won the tender are "Niskogradnja" from Laktaši "Alfa term" from Mostar, and "Tehton" from Banja Luka.

Four lanes will be built at the entrance to the border crossing Svilaj, and three at the exit, which will facilitate the separation of passenger transport from freight transport.

The new border crossing is a prerequisite for opening the new bridge over the Sava River located in Svilaj, which would take some traffic away from Slavonski Brod, one of the busiest border crossings to Bosnia at the moment.

The Svilaj bridge is one of the key structures on the route of the future motorway in the Vc corridor, which will connect the Hungarian capital of Budapest and the Croatian southern seaport of Ploče. The Croatian section of the motorway from Hungary to Bosnia stretches over 59 kilometres, going via Beli Manastir, Osijek, and Đakovo.

At the Bosnian side of the border, a ten-kilometre stretch of the motorway from the bridge to the town of Odžak was built earlier, but it will only have a purpose after the remaining seventy kilometres of motorway to Zenica are built.

No deadlines have been yet given for finishing this infrastructural project Bosnia.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Bosnia Border Police Stops 1,600 Illegal Migrants Since Start of Year

ZAGREB, March 10, 2020 - Since the beginning of the year Bosnia and Herzegovina's border police have prevented more than 1,600 migrants from illegally entering the country from Serbia and Montenegro, the Dnevni Avaz daily reported on Tuesday.

By 8 March there were a total of 1,656 attempts of illegal entry recorded.

According to information from the county's border police, more than 1,300 people attempted to cross the border in the area of Zvornik in eastern Bosnia.

Most of the irregular migrants come for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

The border police have assessed that this is somewhat less pressure by migrants considering the winter period and colder weather however the authorities believe that that situation will change with the spring weather when the number of migrants attempting to cross the border and travel on to Western countries, could increase.

In 2019, the border police prevented a little more than 13,000 attempts of illegal entry into Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Croatia and Bosnia Improve Cooperation in Migration Control

ZAGREB, March 9, 2020 - Croatian and Bosnian police cooperate well in controlling illegal migration, and the two countries should also address their outstanding issues through dialogue, Croatia's Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivan Sabolić, said in an interview with the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz of Monday.

Sabolić said that a recent meeting between Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović and his Bosnian counterpart Fahrudin Radončić was an example of good cooperation that had already produced results and improved communication, especially in fighting illegal migration. He noted that the recent Croatian government decision to donate police equipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina to help it improve border control and curb cross-border crime had also contributed to that.

Asked if Bosnia and Herzegovina could benefit from the Croatian presidency of the EU, Sabolić said that Croatia strongly supported Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU path based on meeting the set criteria, and noted that no other EU member state had helped Bosnia and Herzegovina with the membership application as Croatia.

"Croatia is the staunchest advocate and friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU path, which will help incorporate European values into its legal system while at the same time respecting its particularities. The Croatian presidency unquestionably supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's progress towards membership candidate status," the ambassador said.

He said that the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb in May would be a chance to reinvigorate the accession processes of neighbouring countries and give fresh impetus to the dynamic of their getting closer to the EU in the years ahead.

Sabolić said that outstanding issues such as one concerning the possible construction of a radioactive waste storage facility on Mount Trgovska Gora near the Croatian-Bosnian border should be addressed through dialogue but that there had been no such initiative from Bosnia and Herzegovina so far.

"If and when the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina formally express the wish or need to discuss this matter, the Croatian minister in charge is ready for dialogue to address all aspects of the interest or doubts on Bosnia and Herzegovina's part," the Croatian ambassador said.

Sabolić said that the unresolved issues between the two countries were not insurmountable and could be resolved through dialogue.

He expressed serious concern about the equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent ethnic groups, saying that it was undermined in practice to the detriment of the Croats and warned that it was necessary to prevent the possibility of one ethnic group electing representatives of another.

"Croatia supports a democratic agreement on a fair electoral law that will guarantee the adoption of European standards, prevent abuse and ensure equal status for the three constituent peoples and all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Sabolić said, adding that amending the electoral law would be a key step towards stability and progress, strengthening mutual trust and respect for the rights and freedoms of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Komšić Meets Pope Francis, Vatican to Continue Supporting Bosnia as Multi-Ethnic Country

ZAGREB, February 16, 2020 - The Croat member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) tripartite Presidency and its current chair, Željko Komšić, on Saturday had an audience with Pope Francis during which the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the status of the Church in the country were discussed, the BiH Presidency said.

Komšić also met separately with the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Vatican will continue providing constructive political support to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-ethnic country and it will continue supporting its bid to join Euro-Atlantic associations, it was said at the meeting between Komšić and the pope.

Komšić told the pope that for Bosnia and Herzegovina the only solution was its membership in NATO and the EU.

Confirmed at the talks was the need to ensure respect for the basic human rights of all BiH citizens.

Komšić and Pope Francis also discussed common interests on the regional and international fronts such as peace and security, support for dialogue and responding to challenges faced by Western Balkan countries.

Komšić and Parolin discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region and the ratification and implementation of the Basic Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Holy See, signed in 2007.

More news about Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Diaspora section.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Cooperation Discussed for Agricultural Project in Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro

DUGA RESA, January 28, 2020 - Officials of Karlovac County and the municipality of Velika Kladuša, Bosnia and Herzegovina, negotiated on Tuesday in Duga Resa cooperation in a project of long-term development of agricultural production in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia, which will be co-financed through the EU's INTERREG programme.

It is a project of cross-border cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, coordinated by the north western Bosnian town of Velika Kladuša, so the talks with representatives of the City of Duga Resa and other local units of the Karlovac County were attended by the Velika Kladuša mayor, Fikret Abdić.

The municipalities in Karlovac County, that have shown interest in the project, are part of a total of about 40 municipalities of the three countries, which were visited by the representatives of the municipality of Velika Kladuša and then offered to be their partners in the project, with the aim of cultivating uncultivated land for the benefit of local communities.

The adviser to the Velika Kladuša mayor, Ervin Abdić, told reporters after the meeting that the project was definitely under way, and that they only had to determine who would participate in it. He said that a Memorandum of Cooperation and Friendship would be signed in Velika Kladuša on 22 February with the cities and municipalities which decide to participate, and that they would know the final number then.

“All the communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro which we have visited consider the project useful. In the initial phase, at least two hectares would be cultivated in each municipality, that is, a total of about ten hectares in the five years of the project, and the cost for each municipality would be €250,000, 75 percent of which will be reimbursed from EU funds," Abdić added.

Duga Resa Mayor Tomislav Boljar said that this was the third meeting with the initiators of the project and that in the meantime they had talked to farmers and owners of multiple family-run farms (for which the acronym in Croatian is OPG) about establishing chestnut plantations, which would be the dominant crop.

“There is interest in chestnut plantations, especially in this way where there is co-financing, expert assistance and placement, and it is a crop more resilient to the climate woes we suffer from. The most important thing is to bring neglected land into use, because that will help someone to remain living in the countryside, and chestnut is also good for beekeeping and ecology in general,” Boljar underscored.

Chestnut is just one possible crop, but it is an interesting one because there is already plenty of valuable information from a large cross-border project, completed at the end of 2019, on the promotion of chestnut and its protection against pests, also coordinated by Velika Kladuša. The partners in that project were the Croatian cities of Karlovac, Petrinja and Vojnić, while the partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina were Buzim and the Agricultural Institute from Bihać.

More agriculture news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Varhely: Western Balkans Should Take Advantage of Croatian EU Presidency

ZAGREB, January 28, 2020 - European Union Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhely said during a meeting with the chairmen of both houses of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament in Brussels on Monday that the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU would be a chance for Western Balkan countries, calling on Bosnia and Herzegovina to carry out the necessary reforms.

According to a statement from the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament, Varhely said that the forthcoming summit in Zagreb was an opportunity to put the focus on the Western Balkans region and encourage the development of education and the economy. He also expressed concern about the influx of migrants into the region.

The chairman of the House of Representatives, Denis Zvizdić, and the chairman of the House of Peoples, Dragan Čović, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina expected further assistance from the EU to put the migrant crisis under control.

They expressed their country's full commitment to EU membership, saying that Bosnia and Herzegovina was focused on meeting the criteria for obtaining the status of a membership candidate.

Čović emphasised the importance of EU integration for strengthening the internal stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and said he expected an agreement on electoral legislation to be reached by early April, which would enable elections to be held in the southern city of Mostar.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

BiH to Change Policy Towards Migrants Coming to Croatian Border?

ZAGREB, January 16, 2020 - Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) new Security Minister Fahrudin Radončić will step up monitoring on the border with Serbia and Montenegro to stop the influx of illegal migrants from those countries and coordinate activities with ministers of the interior in the region, the Security Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement was issued after a meeting of the operational group in charge of illegal migrations.

Announcing the new approach to dealing with illegal migrations in the country, Radončić said that his ministry could not be the only institution in the country in charge of care for migrants and that all institutions and government agencies should become involved.

Radončić told the heads of local police agencies who are members of the operational group that he would put emphasis on more efficient border control and prevention of illegal arrivals of migrants as well as on strengthening the capacity of the border police and office for aliens, adding that he would also hold talks with the neighbouring countries' ministers of the interior on ways to deal with the problem together.

Due to the winter conditions, the number of illegal migrants arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina has decreased and currently around 5,500 illegal migrants are staying in reception centres in the country.

The measures announced by Radončić were advocated also by former Security Minister Dragan Mektić but he never received the support of the state leadership for them.

The Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, resolutely opposed proposals that soldiers be deployed along Bosnia and Herzegovina's eastern border to help police prevent illegal entries, and the state-level leadership has to date not approved the filling of more than 500 vacant police posts.

At the same time, the Bosnian Serb entity authorities are not allowing the opening of reception centres in their territory to relieve the pressure of migrants on the area of Bihać, and officials in almost all communities in the other entity, the Federation, have acted similarly.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Croatia's EU Presidency New Chance for SE Europe

ZAGREB, January 12, 2020 - Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolić has said BiH will have Croatia's full support on its European integration path during Croatia's presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of this year.

EU membership is BiH's strategic goal and the desire of a significant part of its population, he said on Saturday at an event which the Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo organised on the occasion of Croatia's EU presidency.

"Croatia is willing to help BiH on that path with its fresh negotiating process experience as well as its status as a European Union member state. We will push for Bosnia and Herzegovina's possible progress towards candidate status," Sabolić said.

Croatia now has the chance, in partnership with the member states and all institutions, to make its special contribution to Europe and one of the priorities is strengthening the European prospects of Southeast Europe, he added.

"We will push for the continuation of a consistent, effective and credible enlargement policy based on the confirmed European perspective of the candidates and the potential candidates, with the full meeting of the defined criteria. As the youngest member state, we are aware of the transforming power of the accession process. The European idea of unity encourages change, suppresses the syndromes and myths of the past, introduces new rules and new values."

Sabolić said it was clear that European unification could not end before all the Southeast European countries gradually became EU members. Therefore, he said, enlargement should be confirmed as a component of the idea of a united Europe.

"We can talk about the pace but we must not bring the goal into question. It's a process in which no one must give up. It's necessary to encourage constant and persevering dialogue. It's a door we want to keep open," he said.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

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