Friday, 5 February 2021

Sabor Unanimously Declares Exclusive Economic Zone in the Adriatic

ZAGREB, 5 February, 2021 - Parliament on Friday declared Croatia's Exclusive Economic Zone (IGP) in the Adriatic.

All 141 lawmakers who were present during the vote in the 151-seat parliament voted in favour of the IGP.

The decision to declare the IGP will enter into force eight days after being published in the Official Gazette instead of 1 February as had originally been planned.

Parliament was to have voted on the motion last Friday. However, after it was established that there wasn't a quorum, voting did not take place and hence the government proposed an amendment changing the date of the motion coming into force, which was then endorsed in the parliament.

In comparison to the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) that was declared in 2003, the IGP means new rights for Croatia - building artificial islands and using the force of the sea, winds and currents.

Under ZERP, Croatia enjoys all the contents of the exclusive economic zone, together with the epicontinental sea, with the exception of the right to build artificial islands and the right to produce energy by using the sea, currents and winds in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

MP Hrvoje Zekanović (Sovereignists) once again today reiterated that declaring the IGP does not change anything, adding that Italian trawlers would dig in Croatia's section of the Adriatic tonight just like they did yesterday.

The only way to protect that area is to actually protect it, however in light of Andrej Plenković's non-sovereignist policy, that will not occur, said Zekanović, adding that this was just another attempt by the incumbent government to delude the public.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Foreign Ministers of Croatia, Italy and Slovenia Adopt Joint Statement

ZAGREB, Dec 19, 2020 - The foreign ministers of Croatia, Italy and Slovenia adopted a joint statement in Trieste on Saturday saying that they shared the vision of the Adriatic Sea as a bridge connecting all the nations in this region and as a source of prosperity for all. 

The meeting was held following the announcements by Italy and Croatia that they would declare their respective exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic.

The Adriatic Sea, as a half-closed sea with intensive maritime traffic and a vulnerable ecosystem, needs an integrated approach to environmental protection, risk prevention and sustainable development, says the joint statement signed by Foreign Ministers Gordan Grlic Radman of Croatia, Luigi Di Maio of Italy and Anze Logar of Slovenia.

The ministers agreed to continue talks on further cooperation in the trilateral format in key areas, including economic development, connectivity, the blue economy and comprehensive protection of the sea. For that purpose, the three countries will establish a mechanism to advance their cooperation at political and expert levels.

Italy and Croatia exchanged information on the progress of the initiatives to declare their respective exclusive economic zones, reiterating that they were taking this step fully in line with the principles of international law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and EU law. In addition, the ministers agreed to hold the next trilateral meeting in the first quarter of next year.

Grlic Radman expressed satisfaction with "a very useful exchange of views on the progress of cooperation," adding that today's meeting mainly focused on operational modalities and priority areas to advance trilateral cooperation in the Adriatic Sea.

"During the meeting we spoke favourably of our relations and I think this meeting is a good start for cooperation in different areas. All three countries remain committed to promoting cooperation in a true European spirit in order to protect the Adriatic Sea, bring our coastal nations closer together  and transform the area of our co-existence together," Grlic Radman said at the end of the meeting.

He said that Croatia would declare its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in January as an upgrade to the existing Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (EFPZ). He said that Croatia would exercise this right under international law and with the agreement of Italy and Slovenia. 

The State Secretary at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Andreja Metelko Zgombic, noted that the meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere.

 She said that the boundaries of the Croatian EEZ would overlap with those of the existing EFPZ until an agreement was reached with Italy and Montenegro on the final delimitation of the zones.

As for Slovenia, Metelko Zgombic said there was no reason for concern because "even those voices in Slovenia that support the results of border arbitration can rest assured because the arbitration ruling itself, which Croatia, unlike Slovenia, does not accept, clearly says that exclusive economic zones can be declared in the Adriatic or the Mediterranean in the future and that that will not infringe Slovenia's rights."

She said that the rights of third countries would remain protected because exclusive economic zones guarantee freedom of navigation.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Croatian Lawmakers Strongly Support Declaration of Exclusive Economic Zone

ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 - The Croatian parliament on Friday endorsed the decision to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Adriatic Sea by 129 votes in favour and one abstention.

The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will be formally declared next month after a trilateral meeting with Slovenia and Italy.

Parliament instructed the government to support stronger cooperation at the trilateral meeting in January 2021 in light of the declaration of exclusive economic zones by Croatia and Italy.

"By declaring the Exclusive Economic Zone, we will do our utmost to legally protect the Adriatic Sea," Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said.

Compared with the existing Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone, the Exclusive Economic Zone provides for two more rights - the right to build artificial islands and the right to use the power of the sea, sea currents and wind.

Parliament also adopted a report on consultations in respect of the declaration of the Exclusive Economic Zone.

Before the vote, the parliamentary groups reiterated their views on the matter.

Nikola Grmoja of the opposition Bridge party said he was pleased that after five years of their struggle and the struggle of their predecessors this decision was being put to the vote. He said he was glad that the ruling parties had changed their opinion, albeit under Italy's influence.

Hrvoje Zekanovic (Croatian Sovereignists) said this was no cause for celebration because it only showed "how pathetic Croatia's politics are". 

"Had Italy not decided to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone, Croatia would never have done it," Zekanovic said, adding that the EEZ would change nothing because "Italian trawlers will continue to plough the Croatian seabed."

Branko Bacic of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that by declaring the EEZ Croatia was protecting its strategic and national interests in the Adriatic, adding that Croatian fishermen would follow rules adopted by the European Commission at Croatia's proposal.

Arsen Bauk of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said that the declaration of the EEZ was a matter for celebration after all because it marked the end of the process that was begun by the SDP government of Ivica Racan in 2003.

The Homeland Movement's Milan Vrkljan disagreed with Bauk, saying that the initiative had actually been launched by the late President Tudjman back in 1994.

Also, Parliament unanimously adopted the Council decision on the system of own resources, one of the EU's key legislative acts the purpose of which is to secure financing over the next seven years.

The EU's budget financing system comprises three main categories of revenue: traditional own resources (mainly customs duties), Value Added Tax-based own resources and Gross National Income-based own resources. 

The agreement on the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027 provides for a new category of revenue based on own resources from non-recycled plastic packaging waste, in accordance with the EU's green transition and sustainable economy strategy.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Croatia and Italy to Declare Exclusive Economic Zone in January

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - Croatia's government on Monday adopted the decision on declaring an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which will happen formally in January after a trilateral ministerial meeting with Slovenia and Italy.

The government adopted a draft proposal of the decision on the declaration of an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea, and the parliament would put it to the vote at an extraordinary sitting on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said.

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said that "an understanding has been reached" in discussion with his Slovenian and Italian counterparts that Croatia and Italy would declare an EEZ after a trilateral meeting in January 2021.

Grlic Radman added that they would also discuss strengthening cooperation in the Adriatic area, with the aim of its environmental protection and blue economy management.

Earlier, Croatia's Foreign Minister had announced the declaration of the EEZ to the Council of Ministers of the European Union and neighbouring countries, and spoke about it at the Mediterranean Dialogue videoconference.

He underscored that the EEZ was being declared in line with the Maritime Code, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and EU legislation, and that the zone would remain a maritime area where all countries would enjoy freedom and rights guaranteed by international law, without prejudice to the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Croatia.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vuckovic said that the EEZ would further improve an already "deep, lately even excellent cooperation with Italy" on the issues of fishing fleets and resource management.

Prime Minister Plenkovic earlier said that the EEZ would, compared with the existing Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) declared in 2003, bring two new rights - the construction of artificial islands and the use of the power of the sea, wind and currents.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs last week said that the declaration of the EEZ was the result of implement the common fisheries policy of Croatia and Italy, as well as of cooperation in the field of environmental protection.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

PM: Decision on Declaring Exclusive Economic Zone in Adriatic to be Adopted Monday

ZAGREB, Dec 12, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Saturday that on Monday his government would adopt a draft decision to declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic.

Plenkovic said on Twitter that he had "consultations with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte regarding the declaration of a Croatian exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic" and that "the Croatian government will adopt a report on the process of consultations and a draft decision on the declaration of an exclusive economic zone on Monday."

The ruling HDZ party caucus said earlier this month that the parliament would declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic by the end of the month.

The foreign ministers of Croatia and Italy, Gordan Grlic Radman and Luigi Di Maio, held talks in Zagreb in late November and agreed on declaring exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic together.

Back in 2003, Croatia declared an ecological and fisheries protection zone (EFPZ) which included 99 percent of elements of an exclusive economic zone, excluding the possibility of building artificial islands and exploiting wind and sea power.

It was determined by subsequent decisions in 2004, 2006 and 2008 that the EFPZ would not apply to EU member-states until a common agreement was reached in a European spirit.

After Croatia joined the EU, the EFPZ, just like all exclusive economic zones and fisheries and ecological zones of other EU member-states, became part of the EU's waters, where rules of the common fisheries policy are in force and where EU member-states cooperate in protecting the marine environment, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said after the talks between the Croatian and Italian foreign ministers.

The long-standing cooperation with Italy in the implementation of the common fisheries policy as well as cooperation in the protection of the marine environment have resulted in an agreement on a harmonised declaration of exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic, the ministry said at the time.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Anze Logar earlier this week held talks with Di Maio on relations between the two countries and they called for a trilateral meeting at the level of foreign ministers with Croatia on the decision of the Italian and Croatian governments to declare exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said.

It noted that Di Maio and Logar had agreed that the Italian side should keep Slovenia informed of the state of the legislative procedure on the declaration of the exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic.

The Italian side guaranteed that the declaration of the exclusive economic zone would be conducted in line with the principles of international law of the sea and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and with full participation by Slovenia and Croatia, with the aim of ensuring the highest possible degree of protection of the Adriatic Sea, the Slovenian ministry said.