Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has rejected as unfounded a diplomatic note sent at the end of January by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the announcement of the declaration of an exclusive economic zone in Croatia’s part of the Adriatic Sea.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic sent the note due to the announcement that Croatia would declare an exclusive economic zone (IGP), stating that it endangered the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular, it’s right to access the high seas.
In its response to Sarajevo, Croatia’s ministry said that it saw no reason for such a reaction because there were no violations of international law in this case, which senior Bosnian officials such as current Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik agreed with.
In December 2020, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman directly informed Minister Turkovic about all plans for declaring an exclusive economic zone, Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolic informed the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers and Dodik later said the declaration of the zone did not call into question the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“One should bear in mind that the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina were not violated in the process of Croatia declaring an exclusive economic zone and that the country is behaving correctly in that regard. In order to sail from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the high seas, that is international waters, one must pass through Croatia’s territorial waters and that is clear to anyone who looks at a map, except to Turkovic”, Dodik said in an earlier comment on the note sent from Sarajevo to Zagreb on 27 January.
Based on those facts, Croatia’s Foreign Ministry told the Bosnian Foreign Ministry that it could not accept its note as a legitimate and official position of Bosnia and Herzegovina on that matter.
The declaration of Croatia’s exclusive economic zone takes effect on 13 February, and Croatia’s Foreign Ministry underscored that this would not affect Bosnia and Herzegovina as Croatia’s Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) applied to it since 2003. ZERP will now become the exclusive economic zone.
The Ministry recalled that in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Croatia had provided unhindered access to and from the shores of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the ZERP.