The announcement of the construction of the airport near Trebinje, right next to the Croatian border, caused a number of fears, from environmental to fear of the “Russian base” in the neighborhood, ie in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
The Dubrovnik public and political leadership were upset a few weeks ago when the executive of BiH announced the possibility of agreeing to build an airport near Trebinje. The project would be largely financed by Serbia, due to better connections within the Republika Srpska (RS), and the facility would be close to the BiH-Croatia border. But, the citizens of Dubrovnik made strong objections from the ecological point of view, ie because not enough attention was paid to this aspect, according to Deutsche Welle (DW).
There has been a heated debate since then, but with a number of additional motives. Dubrovnik has a de facto monopoly on air traffic in this part of Dalmatia, with eastern Herzegovina in the background. The airport in Cilipi is the largest business entity in the southern part of the Dubrovnik region.
However, due to the specific exposure of wind roses, it is closed during each strong bora wind, so the people of Trebinje find their opportunity in that as well. Or it is Aleksandar Vucic, the President of Serbia, who was the first to announce the construction of the Trebinje International Airport two years ago. He then mentioned primarily the reason for connecting Trebinje with Belgrade.
Endangered water of Dubrovnik
On the other hand, official Sarajevo criticizes Croatia for unilaterally announcing the construction of a radioactive waste dump along the border with BiH on the Una River. Finally, there is the security issue or, more precisely, the thesis that the Trebinje airport could be used by the Russians, not for tourist or economic purposes, but for military and intelligence purposes.
In terms of ecology, only a few kilometers from the place that the designers have planned as the location of the future airport, there is indeed the stream of the river Ombla, also the Dubrovnik water pumping station. Between them is a few hundred meters of difference in altitude, and a massif of limestone karst, otherwise known for its exceptional permeability.
For a long time – a protected area
Luka Brailo, a Dubrovnik journalist and expert on the political situation in the region notes that in 1989 the Belgrade company Energoprojekt prepared a hydrogeological study on the “Sanitary Protection Zone of the Dubrovnik spring” in which the environment of that spring is classified as II protection category. The construction of airports is explicitly prohibited in the lower III zone, let alone in the II, in all three listed neighboring countries, as well as in the RS entity.
”That is why I fully understand the speech of the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, who announced a persistent battle against construction without a previously prepared Environmental Impact Study of that project, which, for now, has been missing. To this should be added the news that recently arrived from Banja Luka: the local Institute of Civil Engineering IG, based on the order of the company Aerodrom Trebinje, made an ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’.
Are the Russians coming?
”In the new circumstances, Russia can do absolutely nothing that wouldn’t be noticed by the security services of the United States(U.S.), the European Union (EU), and the NATO. Let’s not forget that the nearby NATO base is located in Kosovo, and one U.S. base is being built in Albania, apart from the fact that Croatia and Montenegro are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Also, BiH is under the magnifying glass of the Western security and intelligence community as fears about the war in Ukraine and the potential destabilization of the Balkans grow,” he added.
Vidmarovic is convinced that some kind of destabilizing maneuver in that sense, in fact, has never been harder to perform. Among other factors, Russia’s air traffic is suddenly limited internationally.