- Published: 28.09.2023.
Opening of exhibition Training Ship Jadran – Home Port of Split, 1933-2023
We received a note which says that Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) members from Montenegro participated in war operations in the Dubrovnik area, he said in Split at the opening of an exhibition on the Jadran.
That means they admit they carried out the aggression and stole the ship, he said, adding that this is a good sign and that Croatia can expect Montenegro to return the Jadran.
The note arrived at the Croatian Foreign Ministry this morning, informing Croatia that equipment, stolen when Montenegrin JNA soldiers took part in war operations in the Dubrovnik area with the support of Montenegro's then governments, was found in Montenegro, said Grlić Radman.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazović said on Tuesday that during an inventory of the assets of the country's airports, they found equipment suspected to have been stolen from Dubrovnik airport when the JNA shelled the city in 1991 and 1992, and that Croatia would soon be notified.
Grlić Radman said today "it is a fact that he (Abazović) said that was a shameful episode for Serbia and Montenegro."
The 60-metre-long sailing ship was built in 1933 and was entered in the fleet registers of Croatian ports until 1991, when it departed from its home port of Split for Montenegro for an overhaul and never returned. It remains a bilateral dispute between Zagreb and Podgorica.
"Croatia will never give up on its property... if the ship had not departed for an overhaul, nobody would be asking where it is. It would be where it belongs, in Split," Grlić Radman said at the opening of the exhibition.
In late July this year Montenegro marked the 90th anniversary of the ship, which prompted Croatia to lodge a protest note with Podgorica for "appropriating its property".
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a regional gathering in late August that he wanted the ship to be returned to Croatia because of its symbolic importance for "many Croatian seamen who trained and worked on it."
Montenegrin President Jakov Milatović said during a visit to Zagreb in early September that the ship was owned by Montenegro but that Podgorica was open to dialogue on the matter, while Croatian President Zoran Milanović called for a financially sustainable solution to the problem, noting also that there were more important topics than that.
Grlić Radman said today in Split that the return of the ship required the good will of the neighbour to discuss the issue.
"And we can see that that has not happened in the past 30 years... there was much stalling, there was talk of commissions, etc. That never yielded any results," Grlić Radman said, adding that there were other, "legal and political mechanisms" and "arbitration", to resolve the dispute.