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Update: S.O.S. Adriatic: NO oil drilling !
Update on S.O.S. Adriatic campaign’s activities so far – written by Maruska Mileta, Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia
Since the official launch of the campaign, the S.O.S. Adriatic coalition has mobilised a significant number of Croatian citizens who are opposing oil drilling in the Adriatic Sea. As a result of our activities, the public pressure and the cross-border consultations, we managed to delay the signing of the contracts – the deadline was April 2nd. First victory for the campaign.
We are continuing to use both legal methods and direct actions to prevent the Croatian Government from signing the contracts which is expected within the next month. Our allies in Italy and Slovenia have succeeded in urging their governments to ask Croatia to be included in cross-border consultations regarding the project. According to the newest poll conducted by the Promocija Plus Agency and published by the broadcaster RTL, 74 percent of all Croatian citizens want a referendum on the drilling in the Adriatic. It is particularly important that the project is opposed by 60 percent of all citizens living on the coast.
The Croatian prime minister Zoran Milanović recently said that there should be a referendum, but withdrew his statement after pressure from the Minister of Economy. Thus we are urging him to uphold his promise and call the referendum. We are planning to form a national platform for the referendum including different actors like unions. As three quarters of the public support the call, we will do everything in our power to hold the referendum before the start of any exploration activities.
Recently also two big coastal counties said NO to oil drilling in the Adriatic: Šibenik-Knin and Dubrovnik-Neretva county. Many other municipalities and counties are expected to do the same. Furthermore, a month ago, 60 MPs in the Croatian Parliament submitted interpellations to bring back this topic into the National Parliament because of illegal and non-transparent procedures of the project, and in order to challenge the governmental decision. The Environmental Protection Committee of the Parliament supported the interpellations by a large majority on May 13th, and it will be discussed in the Parliament in the coming weeks.
World’s biggest environmental organisations give support to the campaign
On May 15th the S.O.S. Adriatic coalition held a press conference in the town Opatija where Greenpeace International’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, Friends of the Earth International’s Chair Jagoda Munić and Asad Rehman, the Coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice gave support to the campaign. The representatives of the world’s biggest environmental organisations sent a clear message to the Croatian Government: to abandon dirty energy projects which harm the people and the planet, and to initiate the energy and social transformation that will enable the transition towards a low carbon society.
In addition, oil drilling in the Adriatic was the main theme during a panel on climate justice with Kumi Naidoo, Jagoda Munić and Asad Rehman at the Subversive Festival in May in Zagreb.
After organising a joint action with Global 2000 / FoE Austria in front of OMV’s headquarters in Vienna in March, the S.O.S Adriatic coalition went back to „pay a visit“ to the Austrian oil company. We held a speech during OMV’s AGM on May 19th in front of more than a thousand shareholders in order to point out the harmfulness and inadmissibility of the exploration and exploitation of oil in the Adriatic, and to urge OMV no to sign the contract with the Croatian Government. At the same time, Croatian and Austrian Greenpeace organised an action in front of the building where the AGM took place telling OMV to get out of the Adriatic. The Austrian public is very aware of this issue and is opposing oil drilling in the Adriatic. More than 4,500 Austrians have sent an e-mail protest letter to OMV, which was initiated by Global 2000. You can listen to an interview that Zelena akcija’s representatives gave to the Austrian Radio FM4.
The Croatian Parliament must protect the Adriatic Sea!
As the Croatian Parliament keeps postponing the discussion on the interpellations which were submitted by 60 MEPs, the S.O.S Adriatic coalition organised an action on June 8th to push them to hold the discussion. Holding a big sign saying „correction of an inaccurate statement“, we emphasized that the Parliament must protect the Adriatic and correct the mistakes of the Government which apparently works in the interests of the fossil fuels industry, and on the expense of the environment and people, especially the citizens of the coastal areas. After the action, we were joined by passing tourists who took solidarity photos with us. We are also trying to find creative ways of mobilising citizens and promoting the campaign, so we just launched a photo contest on Facebook which will last until July 31st. We are looking for photos which show why this prestine area of Croatia must remain intact because the threat of damage lies not only in the exploitation of oil, but also in the very exploration phase. 20 photos which will gain the most “likes” will be turned into postcards and shown at an exhibition at the end of the summer.
S.O.S Adriatic tells Minister of Economy: Let the citizens decide or resign!
We staged a protest on June 17th in Zagreb during a conference on the country’s energy future. Activists hung large banners with messages “Don’t spOIL the Adriatic”, “Go solar, not fossil” and “Minister of Dirty Affairs”. They also offered mock “sardines in crude oil” to the attendees of the conference. The conference was attended by the Croatian Minister of Economy, Ivan Vrdoljak, who is responsible for the implementation of the project of oil drilling in the Adriatic Sea.
The minister has been continuously ignoring appeals from the citizens, tourists from other countries, public figures and experts to suspend signing the harmful contracts with the oil companies. We demand a referendum on this issue – the future of our tourism and our country is at stake. Otherwise, we demand his resignation.
The Franciscan Secular Order supports S.O.S. Adriatic
As Pope Francis published his ecyclical on ecology and climate change telling world leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to act urgently on the basis of climate justice, we sat down with the Franciscan Secular Order for a press conference on June 19th. Apart from presenting the conclusions of the encyclical, we urged the Croatian Government to abandon the harmful oil drilling project. Thus, the Franciscans have officially supported our S.O.S. Adriatic campaign.
Big regional action to protect the Adriatic
On June 20th, a regional collaboration against oil drilling in the Adriatic Sea was launched in the coastal town of Rovinj in Croatia. An appeal promoted by the Italian organization Legambiente, the Croatian Coalition S.O.S. Adriatic and a lot of other organisations, committees and citizens, launched in Rovinj in the presence of the “Green Schooner” (“Golleta Verde”), the historical moving campaign (i.e. boat) of the Italian organisation. We held an action and press conference using the boat and interacted with local citizens. We also launched a joint manifesto #StopSeadrilling – NO OIL as a common commitment for the future of the Adriatic Sea that involves citizens, associations, institutions, committees, fishers, etc. On the same day, actions also happened in different Adriatic countries: Italy, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina. The call for action was also directed at social networks through the hashtag #STOPseadrilling. You can see a bit of the atmosphere from the action in Rovinj in this video.
The S.O.S. Adriatic coalition will keep increasing the pressure on the Croatian Government and oil companies which got the licences in order to prevent oil exploration and exploitation in the Adriatic. The public opposition will only grow because the Adriatic Sea is not only the source of livelihood for many people, but also the nation’s greatest natural treasure.
Photo credit: Greenpeace, Marina Paulenka & Maruška Mileta