Disputed Sailing Ship Causing Tensions Between Croatia and Montenegro

Total Croatia News

The issue of an allegedly stolen sailing ship has remained unsolved for almost 30 years.

Montenegro will not be able to enter the European Union before the issue of the “Jadran” training sailing ship is solved. This is a conclusion of a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs about a ship which Croatia has been unsuccessfully trying to get returned from Montenegro, reports Večernji List August 16, 2018.

“In talks with Montenegro, the ministry is seeking an active approach to address all outstanding issues, including the succession of military property. This has become particularly important since the European Commission clearly stated that no country would be able to enter the Union with unresolved bilateral issues with their neighbours,” said the ministry.

Relations between Croatia and Montenegro could, therefore, become more tense. The cause is the unresolved dispute over the return of the large training sailing ship “Jadran”, on which the Croatian government insists.

In late 1990, Jadran sailed to Boka Kotorska in Montenegro for overhaul and remained there, although its main port was Lora in Split in Croatia. After all these years, of all the ships which have ended up in Montenegro, Croatia is only claiming the sailing ship.

If the Montenegrins did not try to mark the 85th birthday of the Jadran by inviting the Croatian singer Vanna to perform at the celebrations, the dispute over the ship would still be below the media radar. But, after the Croatian media recently started reporting that it was a shame that a Croatian singer would sing in honour of an allegedly stolen ship, Vanna quickly cancelled her performance.

Before the summer, the two government once again exchanged letters about the issue. Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević sent three letters to his Montenegrin colleague Predrag Bošković explaining the Croatian position – the Jadran sailing ship should be returned to Croatia. Krstičević added that Croatia would not change its position, but in the spirit of good-neighbourly relations, Croatia is ready to compromise and make the training ship available to Montenegrin officers for training and education as well. However, the ship must be returned to Split and sail under the Croatian flag. “The ship cannot fly two flags,” said Krstičević.

Initially, Montenegro ignored the Croatian request. In May, the Ministry reacted sharply to Jadran’s visit to Malta. In a diplomatic protest note, it pointed out that sailing of the ship which Croatia considers to be its property was an act contrary to good-neighbourly relations. Croatia also demanded from Malta to refuse to welcome the ship and its crew, 47 students and professors of the Maritime Faculty of the University of Kotor, but that did not happen. There was even an official reception for the Maltese authorities held on board. Similar protests and political pressure prevented Jadran’s visit to Venice in Italy last year.

After everything that happened, Montenegro is careful not to let the ship sail close to the Croatian territorial waters.

Prior to the breakup of Yugoslavia, 89% of the Yugoslav Navy was stationed and registered in Croatia, and 11% in Montenegro. After the breakup and the subsequent war, 85% of the navy ended up in Montenegro, while Croatia managed to keep only 15%. In the meantime, Montenegro sold and decommissioned most of the fleet, and in that way illegally earned a lot of money, without succession ever being officially concluded.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Davor Ivanković, Sandra Veljković).


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