“Let Us Stop the Adoption of Harmful Laws about Croatian Islands”

Total Croatia News

The Island Movement and other NGOs warn about potential threats to Croatian islands.

The Centre for Peace Studies, in cooperation with the ”For Zlatni Rat” initiative and the Island Movement, organised a public debate “Are our beaches and ports really ours?” in Split. The aim of the discussion was to gather all those who face similar problems resulting from the Law on Maritime Domain and Seaports and the Law on Concessions, as well as experts in this subject matter, reports Pokret Otoka on June 1, 2017.

The debate was attended by many islanders from Brač, Pag, Rab, Hvar, Šolta, Vis, Korčula, as well as representatives of civic organisations which have been recognised as important stakeholders. The Island Movement has already repeatedly pointed out that the issue of the Law on Maritime Domain and the Law on Concessions was not a problem just for islands, but for all towns and municipalities along the entire Croatian coast.

Speakers presented issues connected with the Zlatni Rat beach on the island of Brač, which was discussed by Josip Bačić, with the Zrće beach on Pag, presented by Mayor of Novalja Ante Dabo, and with the beaches on the island of Rab, presented by Luka Grgurić. “There are 27 classified beaches on Rab. So far, all the beaches are accessible to everybody. But, it is not certain that it will remain so in the future. Beach chairs, fences, all this affects the freedom of access. On the island of Rab, there is no maritime domain in reality. Everything has been turned into promenades and destroyed beaches. People who are in positions of influence think that beaches should look the way they do in Dubai.”

The most prominent problems which are common to all these areas are the lack of transparency, violation of legal procedures, lack of clear rules on the management of public goods and non-inclusion of the general public, primarily residents from the areas for which the concessions are granted.

Srđan Marinić, president of the Marjan Society, presented the current issues connected with the Split beaches Bene and Kašjuni. A presentation on possible solutions was given by Sandra Benčić from the Centre for Peace Studies, Vladimir Mascarell from the ”For Our Supetar” association, and Marko Bertolino, an entrepreneur and former member of the county assembly. They described the whole issue of the concession granting process in great detail. One of the proposals is that the maritime domain should be exempted from the existing Law on Concessions and be considered as a separate area of ​​particular concern.

“Also, concession rules should give preference to candidates who have a better impact on the local community and the environment. The key solution would be for the local community to be represented in the body that grants the concession. Price as the most important criterion is not right. The priority is to stop the adoption of the law as it is because there has not been a broad public debate. A concession cannot be justified if it is not approved by the local community,” said Benčić.

The event was also attended by Miro Bulj, MOST’s candidate for the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County. After the discussion, he commented on the issue. “We can say that there is no beach or part of the coast which has not been usurped contrary to the interests of citizens and local governments. It is one of the key developmental issues where we need to give natural resources to citizens who live in the area. If this jurisdiction is delegated from the regional to the local level, residents will surely have better living conditions. I am sorry that the public is often focused on minor things, but when it comes to the future of our children, our islanders, and residents of the coastal areas, there is no proper response.”

The debate was not attended by Blaženko Boban, Bulj’s opponent. It would be interesting to hear what he would have to say on the issue.

All participants agreed that at the moment the most important step was to stop the adoption of the Law on Concessions and urge the government to include local residents in the decision-making process.


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