Thursday, 25 July 2019

Tourism Development Plan in Context of Pelješac Bridge Presented

As Morski writes on the 24th of July, 2019, the DUNEA regional agency, in co-operation with the Institute for Tourism, presented a document titled the "Desirable Tourism Development Plan for the Pelješac Peninsula in the contect of the Construction of Pelješac Bridge" in Ston, which is the result of the successful implementation of the COASTING project, which deals with the establishment of integral coastal zone management for sustainable tourism.

As highlighted in the presentation, this document represents the first step in looking at the immediate and indirect effects of the Pelješac Bridge construction on the existing/desired tourist product of the peninsula, but also on the challenges that the authorities in all units of local self-government should respond to in a timely manner.

Representatives of regional and local authorities, civil society associations and businessmen from the Pelješac area, who participated in the workshops organised by the DUNEA regional agency back in April and May in Pelješac, provided a better insight into the role of tourism and its significance for the Pelješac peninsula, the challenges of tourism development, and aspects of the future development of the peninsula, as well as the results of the joint work have now become part of the same plan.

It was also said that the construction of Pelješac Bridge is not only a capital project in the development of the county traffic's infrastructure, but also a project that will significantly affect the quality of life of the local community, mainly due to diverting traffic flows and increasing the traffic burden on one part of the Pelješac peninsula, in order to examine the influence of the construction of Pelješac Bridge on the predominant model of tourism development. It is, in turn, to do with the various economic, environmental and/or social impacts that bridge construction can cause, as the document emphasised.

Representatives of the Ston, Janjina, Trpanj and Orebić Municipalities, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board, the Institute for Physical Planning of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the Public Institution for the Management of Protected Areas of Nature of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the local action group FLAG "South Adriatic ", Orebić's municipal development agencies, the local action group LAG 5 and other interested stakeholders were also present at the document's presentation.

Along with the DUNEA regional agency, the partners of the project are the Lazio Region (Italy), the Regional Council of Gozo (Malta), the Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), the AMP Metropolis (France), the Epirus Region (Greece), the Saranda Municipality (Albania) and the Sicilian Region (Italy).

The project, worth around 1 million euros was contracted under the Interreg Mediterranean program with an 85 percent co-financing rate and the DUNEA regional agency's budget of 89,490 euros.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Bosnian Presidency Should Re-Examine Pelješac Bridge and Nuclear Waste Site

ZAGREB, July 22, 2019 - Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Minister Mirko Šarović, who is the leader of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), on Monday called on the country's Presidency to once again examine the question of the Pelješac Bridge and Croatia's plans for a nuclear waste site at Trgovska Gora after media reported that Croatia had already decided on that site which is close to the Bosnian border.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina has no other choice than to once again put the issue of a nuclear waste storage facility in Trgovska Gora, which is of enormous significance for the entire country and in particular for the towns of Novi Grad, Kostajnica and other border towns, but also the issue of the construction of the Pelješac Bridge on the agenda and to take a clear stance," Šarović said in Banja Luka on Monday.

According to Šarović, the Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik's decision last week to veto a decision by the two other Presidency members was rash. As the incumbent chairman of the tripartite presidency, Dodik called for a veto to a decision by the Bosniak and Serb members, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić respectively that a demand be sent to Croatia to stop the construction of the Pelješac Bridge until the sea border demarcation issue is resolved between the two countries. Dodik's veto was later upheld by the Republika Srpska parliament.

In the meantime, some media outlets have reported that Croatia's authorities have already decided on Trgovska Gora as the site to build a nuclear waste storage facility, which is located on the border with Bosnia, and this has led to numerous reactions in that country.

Šarović said that after the announcement of the plan to build the nuclear waste facility, authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina "have no alternative than to once again" raise these issues with Croatia at the next Presidency meeting.

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

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Milorad Dodik to Protect Pelješac Bridge Again

ZAGREB, July 21, 2019 - The Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency, Milorad Dodik, has said he will again impose a veto and ask the Serb entity's parliament to reverse any decision whereby the Presidency's two other members might outvote him concerning the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia.

"If I'm outvoted again and Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić create certain conclusions on the Pelješac Bridge again, I'll invoke vital interests again," he was quoted as saying in BiH's print media on Sunday.

Earlier this week, the Serb entity's parliament rescinded by two-thirds majority a decision by Džaferović and Komšić, the Presidency's Bosniak and Croat members, after Dodik vetoed their demand that construction on the Pelješac Bridge be stopped and that the two countries resolve the sea border issue, or they would file an international suit.

Dodik said all outstanding issues with Croatia should be resolved through talks but without setting conditions or creating "new disputes that will last ten years or more."

Komšić assumed the rotating chairmanship of the BiH Presidency from Dodik on Saturday, saying he would look for any way to implement the sea border demarcation and that he would insist on BiH's access to the high seas.

More news about Pelješac bridge can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Bosnian Presidency Divided over Pelješac Bridge Construction

ZAGREB, July 17, 2019 - The Croat and Bosniak members of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić and Šefik Džaferović respectively, on Tuesday decided to launch proceedings against Croatia over the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, while the chairman of the tripartite presidency and its Serb member, Milorad Dodik, said that he would attempt to thwart them by using the mechanism of protecting vital national interest.

The decision is considered to have been formally adopted, but considering that each member has the right to vital interest, I as the Serb member of the presidency raised the issue of vital national interest, Dodik told reporters in Sarajevo after a meeting of the presidency.

He did not explain what sort of proceedings would be launched, but it is assumed that they will most likely be instigated at an international arbitration body.

The mechanism of vital national interest means that Dodik will have to explain his objection to Komšić and Džaferović's stance before the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity and if his opinion is upheld by a two-thirds majority, the decision that the other two members of the presidency voted for cannot enter into force.

Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) with its coalition partners has absolute majority in the RS parliament, so it is more than likely that the parliament will put a veto on the presidency's decision adopted today.

Dodik said that that decision was not a good one because it opened new problems in relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He underlined that it was particularly damaging on the day the two countries signed an agreement the construction of a bridge across the Sava river at Gradiška which has been in the pipeline for the past ten years.

"My demand was that a border agreement be reached with Croatia, but they (Komšić and Džaferović) focused on the Pelješac Bridge," Dodik said, stressing that that would mean a dispute not only with Croatia but the European Union, which would not be good for the country.

Komšić and Džaferović earlier reiterated that Croatia should not be allowed to build the bridge before the border issue between the two countries in the Neum bay is resolved. They claim that the Pelješac Bridge will hinder Bosnia and Herzegovina's access to the high seas.

The Croatian Roads company, the Bosnian Communications and Transport Ministry and a contractor representative signed a 19.5 million euro contract in Zagreb on Tuesday for the construction of a bridge across the Sava river from Okučani to the Croatian-Bosnian border.

More news about Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Pelješac Bridge Construction Finally Surfaces!

After the Chinese company CRBC started working on the new Pelješac bridge in July last year, and after all of the 148 permanent (+ 2 test) pillars have been installed at their sites, in the last couple of days the construction of the bridge has finally surfaced!

Večernji list brings the story and a gallery of photos by Hrvatske ceste (Croatian roads), of how it's possible to see the structure of the bridge above the sea level, as the work on the foundation slabs has started, and those are the first sections of the bridge that will be above water.

It took less than a year to reach that benchmark, and it takes a lot of human and machine power to be able to work that fast. Currently there are more than 20 vessels working on the site, although the biggest one, the Xong Cheng 1 crane, left the bay in May. Currently there are 385 workers on the site, 44 of which are Croats and 341 are Chinese nationals working in Croatia (and recently there have been some problems with their work permits, so the company had to pay a hefty fine).

The foundation slabs connect the pillars that belong to the same group, thus allowing for better stability of the bridge, as well as to protect it against any boats potentially hitting the pillars - as they are at water level and visible. Once they're completed, the piers of the bridge get attached to the slabs. There's more work to be done, as Croatian roads reports, on the pillars of the bridge, pouring concrete and finalising the structure at the seabed.

It is expected that Pelješac bridge will be completely finished in two years. And whether it's going to be fully operational then depends on some other factors, which have almost nothing to do with the bridge itself, rather they almost perfectly tell the tale of Croatia.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Pelješac Bridge Access Roads Will Be Ready on Time, Says Minister

ZAGREB, May 30, 2019 - The national road operator Hrvatske Ceste (HC) took into account of possible appeals, lawsuits and so on with regard to access roads to the Pelješac Bridge, and now it is necessary to wait for the court's decision on the appeal that was lodged, but all the works will be completed within the set deadlines, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport, and Infrastructure Oleg Butković told reporters on Thursday.

Butković said that "we are used to that and nothing we haven't seen before is occurring," and that "no one, including the Croatian government, prime minister, ministers or HC's director can or is allowed to influence the independent decisions of the courts or the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures because they are independent bodies.

"All I can do is appeal on those institutions to make their decision as soon as possible," Butković said, adding that the court had 30 days to decide on the appeals and then it will be known who the contractor for the access roads will be.

The appeal was lodged on May 15, so the court should deliver its decision by June 15, he said and added that if the appeal is rejected, HC would sign the contract for the road construction, and if the appellant is not satisfied with the decision, it has the opportunity to appeal to the Administrative Court, but that will not halt the works.

The latest hitch emerged after the Greek Avax company lodged an appeal to the High Administrative Court (VUS) in mid-May against a decision by the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures quashing a decision by HC that the access roads to the Pelješac Bridge be built by that company.

On May 16, VUS confirmed that it had received Avax's appeal. Under the Public Procurement Act, a decision has to be delivered within 30 days.

More Pelješac Bridge news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Greeks Launch Lawsuit, New Delay for Pelješac Bridge Access Roads

The Greek company Avax has filed a lawsuit against Croatia’s State Commission for Control of Public Procurement Procedures. The reason is a decision by the commission to annul the decision by the Croatian Roads to award the company the contract for the construction of access roads to the Pelješac Bridge, the Duboka-Sparagovići section, reports Večernji List on May 23, 2019.

The High Administrative Court has confirmed that they had received the Avax’s lawsuit on May 16, adding that, in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, a decision on an administrative dispute must be made within 30 days from the date the lawsuit is filed, unless there are exceptionally justified circumstances.

This means that the decision should be made no later than June 16. With the Avax's lawsuit, the tender for the construction of the Pelješac Bridge access roads faces a new twist and further delays. Bids for the tender were opened last June, but the Croatian Roads public company made the decision on the selection only in late February this year. The decision to award the contract to Avax, estimated at 482 million kunas, was appealed by the Austrian company Strabag and the Greek company Aktor. The appeal was rejected.

In its appeal, Strabag stated that the Croatian Roads should had excluded Avax due to the participation of the company in a cartel agreement in Greece between 2005 and 2012. Croatian Roads responded that it did not determine there was a professional omission by Avax because it had no proof of this, and that the company had paid a fine for being in a cartel agreement.

Avax said in its statement that it received a fine of 18.3 million euro being in a cartel agreement and that the last case of a breach of market competition rules occurred in 2012. They also said that the company was not excluded from public tenders in Greece. The commission instructed Croatian Roads to reconsider all the bids received and see whether there were reasons to exclude Avax.

It is expected that Croatian Roads will wait for the court ruling on Avax's lawsuit before making a new decision. Avax has offered to construct the Duboka-Sparagovići section for 464.9 million kuna, while Strabag was ready to do it for 478.3 million kuna. The offer of Integral Inženjering from Bosnia and Herzegovina amounted to 321.2 million kuna, and by GP Krka and Euro-asfalt to 444.3 million kuna. Aktor asked for 464.6 million kuna, and Colas for 521.9 million kuna. The offer of the China Road and Bridge Corporation amounted to 647.8 million kuna.

While the Pelješac Bridge construction is progressing according to schedule, the construction of access roads is running late.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Josip Bohutinski).

More Pelješac Bridge news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

VIDEO: Croatian Roads Release 3D Simulation of Pelješac Roads

Pelješac bridge is something we've been reading about and anticipating for many years now. From wondering where the funding would come from before Croatia's accession to the EU to hearing Bosnian arguments against its construction, this enormous Croatian strategic project will see the construction of a bridge connect Croatian territory without a detour through Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina, needed in order to reach Dubrovnik and the extreme south of Dalmatia by car. 

Works on Pelješac bridge which once seemed like they'd never happen finally began not so long ago, after a Chinese company was chosen as the contractor, much to the European Commission's irritation, given the fact that the bridge is majority financed by European Union funds. Despire that, works appear to be going smoothly and owing to the famous efficiency of the Chinese, more quickly than expected.

The joke is now that the Croats who can't seem to get the construction of Pelješac bridge's access roads off the ground (no pun intended) won't have even chosen a contractor before the Chinese have finished with the entire bridge.

Regardless, Croatian Roads (Hrvatske Ceste) have published the first 3D promotional video on what Pelješac's brand new roads are set to look like.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of May, 2019, just two days ago, the last pilot was put into place at Pelješac bridge's construction site, along the sea bed below the future bridge, 148 permanent pilots and two testers were placed, and the quick and efficient Chinese builders have thus completed the first phase of the bridge's construction, well before time.

This was the timely occasion for Croatian Roads to announce their promotional film showcasing a 3D simulation of the future road through Pelješac for the first time. Have a look at the video (in Croatian) here:

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more information on the construction of Pelješac bridge and much, much more.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Pelješac Bridge: All 148 Pillars Installed, Access Roads Behind Schedule?

The final of a total of 148 planned permanent pillars was installed at the site of Pelješac Bridge on Thursday night. The hammer of the Xong Cheng 1 crane installed the last, 126.6 metres tall pillar, reports Večernji List on May 11, 2019.

According to the construction plan, the last permanent pillar was supposed to be installed on May 21, which means that the Chinese builders from China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) have completed this phase 12 days ahead of schedule. The longest pillar is 128.6 metres tall and weighs about 230 tons, while the shortest one is 36 metres long. The diameter of the pillars is between 1.8 and 2 metres. The Croatian Roads public company says that the next phase is for the sludge to be extracted from the steel pipes and discharged, according to the environmental impact study, at a location 21 nautical miles from the site of the future bridge.

While the pillars are still underwater, it is expected that they will become more visible starting from October. The first phase of the construction has passed according to estimates and without additional, unforeseen costs.

There are currently 150 Chinese and 55 Croatian workers at the construction site of Pelješac Bridge. CRBC has pledged to build the bridge within three years from the date of its arrival at the site, which means by the end of July 2021. It is possible that the works will be finished ahead of schedule.

The construction of access roads, however, has not yet begun. Croatian Roads need to re-issue a decision on the contractor for the Duboka-Sparagovići section after the initial decision on the selection of the Greek company J&P Avax has been annulled. They are yet to make a decision on the contractor for the Ston bypass road. It is 32 kilometres long with numerous smaller bridges and tunnels.

Croatian Roads say that the deadline for completing the entire link with southern Croatia is January 31, 2022, and that it is essential for the whole project to be completed by 2023 because the money from EU funds has to be spent by that time.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Josip Bohutinski).

More news about Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Is Croatia Really That Important on Chinese Investment Map?

Just how important is Croatia on the Chinese investment map?

As Iva Grubisa/Novac writes on the 21st of April, 2019 China's investment in European Union countries has grown steadily over the past ten years, and the European Commission (EC) has recently referred quite openly to the Chinese as a "systemic rival" and "a strategic competitor," the BBC reports.

The European Union has thus introduced a new mechanism for the strict overseeing of foreign investment, in order to promptly react should they assess that foreign investment could harm the security of EU member states.

According to the EC's report, a third of total EU assets are in the hands of foreign companies and 9.5 percent of companies in the EU have owners based in China, Hong Kong or Macau. When compared with 2007, when this share was only 2.5 percent, it's a significant increase, although the share of European business in Chinese hands is still relatively small. By comparison, back at the end of 2016, 29 percent of EU companies were controlled by Americans and Canadians.

Chinese investment in Europe reached its peak back in 2016, when it amounted to an enormous 37.2 billion euros, followed by a visible slowdown.

"This is mainly a result of stricter control over Chinese capital, but also changes in the global political climate when it comes to China's investments,'' explained Agatha Kratz of the Rhodium Group for the BBC.

Just where are the Chinese investing the most? Although a recent visit by a large Chinese delegation has been accompanied the news of the growth of Chinese investment and ambitions here in Croatia, according to the Rhodium Group, the Republic of Croatia is not even in the top ten countries in which China is the biggest investor in terms of capital.

Between 2000 and 2018, most Chinese investments took place in the largest European economies, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France. The top ten were ranked in the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.

According to Bloomberg's survey last year, they have owned or used to own shares in four European airports, six naval ports, and as many as thirteen football clubs.

Nevertheless, one must not forget the new big Chinese project, the Silk Road, known as the "One Belt, One Way" Initiative, in which the Chinese plan large investments in European infrastructure to strengthen trade links between China and Europe. Croatia is along that ''road'', and therefore the Chinese are investing in Rijeka Port, the Rijeka-Karlovac railway, mentions of investments in Croatian airports have been floating around, and there's almost no need to mention the fact that the Chinese are building Peljesac bridge, although its cost is mostly paid for by European Union funds.

The Chinese are also investing in Croatia's neighbouring countries, building roads and railways in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and even in Northern Macedonia. In addition, Montenegro, as reported earlier this week, provided part of its state territory as a guarantee for the repayment of credits for the construction of part of the Bar-Boljari motorway to the Chinese Exim bank.

Since Montenegro has less of a chance of repaying this loan, it's not an entirely unbelievable option to remain without part of the state's territory, as bizarre as it might sound at first, and in that context, it's possible to understand some Croatian fears about entering into partnerships with the Chinese. This example is often cited as a warning to European countries to be extremely cautious when concluding economic agreements with China, to make sure they don't eventually fall into becoming a slave to the debts.

Trump's administration is much more closed to Chinese investment activities in the United States, and the authorities of other non-EU countries are much more cautious in entering into such partnerships, especially in the areas of telecommunications and defense. In any case, positively or negatively, China is certainly an extremely important player in Europe.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on Chinese presence in Croatia. Chinese investment in Croatia, Chinese projects in Croatia and more.


Click here for the original article by Iva Grubisa for Novac/Jutarnji

Page 10 of 22