BELGRADE - Serbia is planning to set up a new agency to investigate disasters at sea, despite having no coastline of its own and little money to spare in the public purse, a government official said on Monday.
Under the draft law, to be sent to parliament for approval when it reconvenes in September, the body will be responsible "for investigation of maritime disasters, proposing measures for avoidance of such accidents and improvement of maritime navigation."
Serbia lost its access to the Adriatic Sea in 2006 when it parted with Montenegro, its smaller partner in the then State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The EU applicant country has no maritime merchant fleet, but it does have merchant river ships that ply the Danube and its smaller rivers.
"True, Serbia has no seagoing vessels, but it has about 5,000 sailors working on foreign ships and the law must be adopted as part of our efforts to join the European Union," a government spokesman said. "If some day someone registers a ship under the Serbian flag we will be responsible for it."