07.07.2021 – 20:20
The Adriatic Sea separates the Apennine Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost branch of the Mediterranean Sea, stretching from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest and the Po Valley. The countries on the Adriatic coast are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. The Adriatic has over 1,300 islands, located mainly along the Croatian part of its east coast.
The Adriatic coast is populated by more than 3.5 million people; the largest cities are Bari, Venice, Trieste and Split. The earliest settlements on the Adriatic coast were Etruscan, Illyrian and Greek. From the 2nd century BC, its shores were under the control of Rome. In the Middle Ages, the Adriatic coast and the sea itself were controlled by a number of states – mostly the Byzantine Empire, the Kingdom of Croatia, the Republic of Venice, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire.
The Napoleonic Wars resulted in the First French Empire gaining coastal control and the British attempt to oppose the French in the area, eventually securing most of the east Adriatic coast and the Po Valley for Austria. After Italian unification, the Kingdom of Italy began an eastward expansion that lasted until the 20th century.
After the First World War and the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, control of the eastern coast passed to Albania and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia disintegrated during the 1990s, resulting in four new states on the Adriatic coast. Italy and Yugoslavia had agreed on their maritime borders since 1975 and this border is recognized by the successor states of Yugoslavia, but the maritime borders between Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro are still controversial. Italy and Albania agreed on their maritime border in 1992.
The most beautiful part of the Adriatic among the Balkan countries is that of Croatia, which has grown faster economically than the rest of these countries. Maritime transport is also an important branch of the area’s economy – there are 19 seaports in the Adriatic and each processes more than one million tonnes of cargo per year.
The largest seaport in the Adriatic in terms of annual cargo traffic is the Port of Trieste, while the Port of Split is the largest passenger port. Croatia has the largest number of islands in the Adriatic, 1,246. The Croatian islands include the largest – Cres and Krk and the longest, Brac. The Croatian islands include 47 inhabited islands, the most populous of which are Krk, Korcula and Brac.
Montenegro has a more complicated history. In 1918, the Montenegrin national assembly voted to join the Kingdom of Serbia, giving the latter access to the Adriatic. Another short-lived state, founded in 1918, was the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which controlled most of the former monarchy’s coastline along the Adriatic. Montenegro remained with Serbia until 2006, when it finally declared independence, eventually blocking Belgrade’s only access to the sea.
Proponents of the new union in the Croatian parliament, meanwhile, saw the move as a defense against Italian expansionism as set out in the Treaty of London. The 1919 Treaty of St. Germain On Leah gave Istrian to Italy and Dalmatia to what was then Yugoslavia. After the war, a force of demobilized Italian soldiers occupied Rijeka and set up the Italian Regiment of Karnaro, in order to make the Italian claims to the city a reality.
Sixteen months after the Regency’s existence, the Rapallo Treaty of 1920 redefined the Italian-Yugoslav borders, including the crossing of Zadar and the islands of Kres, Lastovo and Palagruzha to Italy, the island of Krk to Yugoslavia and the creation of the Free State of Fiume. This new state was repealed in 1924 by the Treaty of Rome which gave Fiumen, modern Rijeka, Italy and Sushak, Yugoslavia.
In 1947, after the armistice between Italy and the Allied armed forces and the end of the war, Italy and the Allies signed the Peace Treaty. The treaty overturned all wartime annexations, guaranteed Albania’s independence, established the Free Territory of Trieste (FTT) as a city-state, and gave communist Yugoslavia most of the Slovenian coast, Istrian, the islands of Kres, Lastovo and Palagruzha. and the towns of Zadar and Rijeka. The FTT ended in 1954: Trieste itself and the area to its north were placed under Italian control, while the rest were placed under Yugoslav control. This agreement became permanent with the 1975 Osimo Treaty.
During the Cold War, the Adriatic Sea became the southernmost arm of the Iron Curtain, Italy joined NATO, and the Warsaw Pact established bases in Albania. In the 1990s, the break-up of Yugoslavia began. The Adriatic Sea became the scene of several NATO operations, including sanctions against Belgrade, intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the 1999 bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war.
Meanwhile, the Croatian war for independence had included limited naval engagements and a blockade of the Croatian coast by the Yugoslav Navy, leading to the Battle of the Dalmatian Canals and a subsequent withdrawal of Yugoslav ships.
FIGHT FOR MARINE BORDERS
Italy and Yugoslavia set their borders on the Adriatic in 1968, with an additional agreement signed in 1975 on the border of the Gulf of Trieste, following the Treaty of Osimo. All successor states to the former Yugoslavia accepted the agreements. In the southernmost areas of the Adriatic the border was not defined to avoid prejudice of the location of the three points with the border of the Albanian continental shelf, which remains undefined.
Prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia, Albania, Italy, and Yugoslavia initially declared 28 km, or 17 miles, of territorial waters, later reduced to international standards to 12 nautical miles. Albania and Italy defined their maritime border in 1992 according to the principle of equidistance.
The land borders of the former Yugoslav republics were set by demarcation commissions that implemented the AVNOJ decisions of 1943 and 1945, but the exact border has not been agreed by successor states, making it difficult to define maritime borders. Maritime borders were not defined at all in the time of Yugoslavia. Moreover, the maritime border between Albania and Montenegro was not defined before the 1990s.
Croatia and Slovenia began negotiations to define maritime borders in the Piran Bay in 1992 but failed to agree. The two countries also declared their economic zones, which partially overlap.
Croatia’s bid to become an EU member was initially suspended pending the resolution of its border disputes with Slovenia. These disputes with Slovenia were finally resolved with an agreement to accept the decision of an international arbitration commission set up through the United Nations, allowing Croatia to progress towards EU membership, until it was finally accepted as a member of the Union.
The maritime border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia was officially established in 1999, but some issues are still under discussion – the Klek Peninsula and two islands in the border area. The Croatia-Montenegro maritime border is being discussed in the Bay of Kotor, on the Prevlaka Peninsula.
This dispute was exacerbated by the occupation of the peninsula by the Yugoslav People’s Army and later by the Yugoslav Army, which was replaced by a United Nations observer mission that lasted until 2002. Croatia took control of the area with an agreement allowing Montenegro presence in Croatian Gulf waters and the dispute has become much less controversial since Montenegro’s independence in 2006.
Countries bordering the Adriatic Sea are important tourist destinations. The largest number of overnight tourist stays and the most numerous tourist accommodation facilities have been recorded in Italy, especially in the Veneto region (around Venice). Veneto is followed by the Emilia-Romagna region and by Croatian districts along the Adriatic. All countries along the Adriatic coast, with the exception of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, participate in the Blue Flag (Environmental Education Foundation) beach certification program for beaches and marinas that meet strict quality standards including protection environment, water quality, safety and service criteria.
As of January 2012, the Blue Flag has been awarded to 103 Italian Adriatic beaches and 29 marinas, 116 Croatian beaches and 19 marinas, 7 Slovenian beaches and 2 marinas and 16 beaches in Montenegro. Tourism along the Adriatic is an important source of income for these countries, especially in Croatia and Montenegro. Likewise, the transportation of people and goods. There are nineteen Adriatic ports in four different countries each handling more than one million tonnes of cargo per year.
The largest cargo ports are the Port of Trieste (the largest Adriatic cargo port in Italy), the Port of Venice, the Port of Ravenna, the Port of Koper (the largest Slovenian port), the Port of Rijeka (the largest port of large freight cargo in Croatia), and the Port of Brindisi. The largest passenger ports on the Adriatic are the Port of Split (Croatia’s largest passenger port) and the ports of Ancona (Italy’s largest passenger port on the Adriatic).
The largest seaport in Montenegro is the Port of Bar. But it looks like this port will have competition for a few years. An Albanian government project envisages that the port of Durres in Albania be 2 times larger than that of Bar and the anchored yachts will be 15 to 200 meters long.
In November last year, Prime Minister Edi Rama signed an agreement with the Crown Prince in the United Arab Emirates to turn the port of Durres from a cargo port into a port dedicated to tourism. EMAAR company will make the transformation of this port in a time frame of 4 to 6 years
Rama: “This project would be the most important strategic project of Albania, since the system has changed. Important from the point of view of the funds that will be injected into the economy. The preliminary forecast is 12 thousand jobs, a new city within the city, but with the highest standards we have ever had. A bit of the same standards and ambition in Dubai, in terms of standards, not form. It is not about fason employment, it is about employment with salaries much higher than today, 5-star structures, high quality apartments. It is a foreign investment of about 2 billion that will impact the whole of Albania from the point of view of the standard. “
This will bring Durrës to the same level of the most sought-after destinations in the Mediterranean while the existing commercial services of the port of Durrës will be transferred to a new port entirely dedicated to goods in Porto Romano.
The main Albanian Adriatic port in Durrës is also expected to become the seaport for Kosovo and Northern Macedonia after € 204 million in agreed financing for infrastructure works in Albania and Kosovo from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and € 77.6 million. € donor funding. But this is just one of the investments.
The port of Durres is highly coveted by Serbia, which has always had it on the agenda, regardless of times, history and powers. In October 2016, the current president of Serbia, then prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, would declare that Durres would be the closest port to Serbia once the highway from Nis to Durres was built. Speaking then at the Serbian-Albanian business forum in Nis, which was also attended by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Vucic added that “the trip from Belgrade to Durres will last four and a half hours.”
The port of Durres later became part of discussions and agreements in the framework of the Balkan Schengen and also part of the Washington agreements between Kosovo and Serbia. Serbia has no access to the sea and its constant interest has been to go to sea, at any cost, whether by war or peace.
Balkan Schengen paves the way for the use of this port for countries in the region, including Serbia. This is also in the context of returning the main focus in the economies of the Balkan countries, to road, railway and port infrastructure, which would connect them with each other, normalizing and accelerating the movement of people and goods./abcnews.al