Croatian Foreign Minister Grlić Radman, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar (Photo: HRT) Croatian Foreign Minister Grlić Radman, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar (Photo: HRT)

"The Adriatic Sea, as a semi-enclosed sea with intensive maritime traffic and a vulnerable ecosystem, needs an integrated approach to environmental protection, risk prevention and sustainable development," said the joint statement by Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, Italian Minister Luigi Di Maio and Slovenian Minister Anže Logar at the trilateral meeting in Trieste.

The ministers agreed to continue talks on opportunities for joint co-operation in a trilateral format in key areas, including economic development, connectivity, the blue economy and comprehensive protection of the Adriatic Sea. To this end, the three countries will establish a mechanism to enhance co-operation, at both the political and expert level.

In this regard, the Italian and Croatian sides exchanged information on the progress of initiatives to declare an exclusive economic zone and reiterated that they would take such a step in full compliance with the principles of international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and EU law.

In addition, the ministers agreed to hold the next trilateral meeting in the first quarter of next year.

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman expressed satisfaction with the "very useful exchange of views on the progress of co-operation", saying that the main modalities and priority areas for improving trilateral co-operation in the Adriatic Sea were discussed today.

“During the meeting we spoke affirmatively about our relations and I think that this meeting is a good start of cooperation in various fields. All three countries remain committed to improving cooperation in a true European spirit in order to protect the Adriatic Sea, expand the Mediterranean area and bring peoples closer to the shores of our sea and jointly transform the area of our coexistence,” said Minister Grlić Radman after the meeting in Trieste.

He added that in January, Croatia will declare an exclusive economic zone, to which it is entitled under international law, but with the consent of Italy and Slovenia as an upgrade of the existing protected ecological-fishing zone.

Stating that the meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere, State Secretary for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Andreja Metelko Zgombić pointed out that the Croatian and Italian sides had announced the declaration of an exclusive economic zone.

“Croatian Parliament will do it in January next year, and there is already a proposal for a decision, the public is aware of the elements. Our exclusive economic zone will extend in the area where our protected ecological-fishing zone now extends and will have those external temporary demarcation borders until an agreement is concluded with Italy and Montenegro on the final demarcation of these zones,” said Metelko Zgombić.

As for Slovenia, she believes that there is no reason for concern because, as she said, "even those votes from Slovenia that support the results of the arbitration can be at peace because the arbitration itself, which Croatia, unlike Slovenia, does not accept, clearly state that exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic or the Mediterranean can be declared in the future and that this will not violate Slovenia's rights".

According to her, what is important to know, is that there is freedom of navigation through economic zones, so the rights of third countries will continue to be protected.

Source: HRT