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Croatia regains territorial continuity with new bridge


Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, August 16th 2022 à 16:05 | Read 402 times



The Pelješac bridge offers a territorial continuity to Croatia (photo: C.Dubessy)
The Pelješac bridge offers a territorial continuity to Croatia (photo: C.Dubessy)
CROATIA. Tourists no longer have to spend one or two hours in summer traffic jams to reach Dubrovnik or the island of Korcula by road from northern Croatia. On 26 July 2022, Andrej Plenkovic inaugurated the Pelješac bridge, not hesitating to speak of "a project of a generation, an object of pride." The Croatian Prime Minister also spoke of "a historic day for Croatia".

The cable-stayed bridge now ensures Croatia's territorial continuity and spans the bay of Mali Ston over the Adriatic. It avoids the ten or so kilometres of compulsory transit through Bosnia-Herzegovina (an access to the Adriatic Sea gained at the time of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina in March 1992), via the Neum corridor to reach southern Croatia directly. This bypass of the Bosnian coast, particularly the town of Neum, frees tourists, like the 90,000 inhabitants of this region, from having to cross two border crossings (Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnia-Herzegovina/Croatia). The wait is all the longer since Bosnia-Herzegovina, unlike Croatia (an EU Member State since 1 July 2013), has not yet joined the European Union.

 

A bridge financed by the EU

The new bridge allows the city of Neum to be bypassed, thus avoiding the need to cross two border posts (photo: C.Dubessy)
The new bridge allows the city of Neum to be bypassed, thus avoiding the need to cross two border posts (photo: C.Dubessy)
Built by a Chinese consortium (China Road and Bridge Corporation) and 85% financed by the European Union under the cohesion policy - which did not fail to arouse criticism - this fifty-five metre high and twenty-one metre wide structure links the towns of Brijesta and Komarna over 2.4 kilometres. The construction work lasted fifteen years and required a budget of €357 million.

Work on the Pelješac bridge began in 2007 but was quickly halted due to a lack of funds. They were able to resume in 2017 thanks to the arrival of European funds.

For a long time, the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina were opposed to the project. They considered it illegal without their agreement and argued that it violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. But they were unsuccessful. All appeals were rejected, creating tension between Sarajevo and Zagreb. But the Bosnians, who feared that the bridge would restrict the entry of heavy ships into the bay of Neum, obtained, as a consolation prize, an increase in its height, from thirty-five to fifty-five metres, and therefore also in its budget. The town of Neum, the only seaside resort in the country, fears that tourists will be unable to visit the town.

"The Pelješac bridge was built in the interests of Croatia, but not to the detriment of Bosnia-Herzegovina," said Croatian President Zoran Milanovic at its inauguration.

To better understand the historical particularity of Neum, read also: The Bosnian town of Neum will soon be spanned by a bridge to ensure territorial continuity with Croatia.

The GPS have not yet integrated the bridge giving the impression of floating on water with his car (photo: F.Dubessy)
The GPS have not yet integrated the bridge giving the impression of floating on water with his car (photo: F.Dubessy)



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