Photograph: Ilustracija

Bosnia and Herzegovina will demand that Croatia ensure access to international waters for its vessels, Transport and Communications Minister Slavko Matanovic told the Oslobodjenje daily in an interview published on Wednesday.

"Croatia actually took the maritime borderlines from the former Yugoslavia, ignoring the fact that our country too has access to the sea and that it is entitled to have access to international waters under conventions," Matanovic said.

He explained that under the present circumstances vessels cannot sail directly into Neum because they first have to enter Croatia's internal waters, go to the port of Ploce and then are escorted to the Bosnian coastal town.

Matanovic said that the two countries had agreed to establish a commission this year to deal with outstanding maritime issues, but that the Croatian government had not named its members and the commission never started work.

Matanovic said that Croatia's plan to build a bridge between the mainland and the Peljesac peninsula, which would bypass the Bosnian stretch of the coastline, was questionable because the bridge would only make it more difficult for Bosnian vessels to reach international waters.

"The bridge would become Croatia's maritime property and Croatia would have control of both that property and what's underneath it," the minister said.

The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not have a common view on the construction of the Peljesac bridge. The Croat members of the present state-level government do not dispute Croatia's right to connect its south, which is cut off at Neum, with the rest of the country.

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