A high-profile panel on co-operation in the Adriatic Sea as part of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) discussed the exclusive developing economic zones (EEZs) and the co-operation of Slovenian, Croatian and Italian ports.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Croatia’s idea of declaring the EEA in the Adriatic Sea had been a very important issue and a politically sensitive issue since it was presented, prompting trilateral meetings with Italian representatives.
“When we agreed on everything, we came out together and signed a statement and showed how it is possible for the three neighboring countries that have something precious and important in common to cooperate,” he added.
Logar believes that the economies of countries and seaports can compete and cooperate, also finding a way to protect marine ecosystems from pollution, while enabling economies to grow and evolve and sea lanes to expand.
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman noted that the Adriatic Sea was the foundation of culture and tradition for the three nations, and that the exclusive Croatian economic zone was in fact a step towards protecting the environment and maritime heritage.
He also noted that environmental protection was an important segment of the European Green Agreement and that these discussions would continue as part of the EU Med Group, to which Slovenia and Croatia are expected to be formally invited in mid-September. .
Italian FM Luigi di Maio was unable to attend via videoconference as originally planned.
The debate also took place around the co-operation of the ports of Trieste, Rijeka and Koper.
Zeno D’Agostino of the East Adriatic Seaport Port Authority noted that as investment in railways around the three ports was growing to accommodate increased container transfers, a green approach was needed. Ports also need to invest in knowledge and technology.
“The real infrastructure is in our heads, we are investing in knowledge and here we are cooperating a lot,” D’Agostino said, seeking to create an underwater cable from the Suez Canal to the Adriatic Sea to make ports technology hubs.
Luka Koper CEO Dimitrij Zadel said the three ports have green policies in mind and, while they cannot co-operate operationally and strategically, they can work together on environmental issues.
“We are not enemies as one would like to try, we can discuss everything,” he said, adding that much had been done in the past for the Adriatic Sea from this point of view and now it was also the tripartite political level.