Access to Beaches Remains Hot Topic in Croatia

Amid a controversy about whether holders of private concessions to public beaches in Croatia have a legal right to limit people's access to them, some private concessioners have told BIRN that they are only trying to prevent tourists from holding barbeques and moving the rented easy chairs.

"We allow people to come to the beach and bring food and drinks they carry in their cooler boxes ... but we don't allow them to make a barbeques and bring cases of beer and drink them next to other guests," a representative of the Hemingway beach bar in Medveja, near the northern coastal town of Opatija, told BIRN.

"It is too much if someone brings cases of beer and turns up the music loud and so bothers the other guests," he said.

He explained that at the beach in Medveja, where the bar has a concession, people can enter without paying for tickets.

The row over public-versus-private rights to beaches went up a notch after the daily Novi list last Friday reported that waiters at a bar at the Lido beach in Opatija had told a 16-year-old to leave because he had neither rented an easy chair nor bought any drinks from the bar.

The manager of the Lido, Igor Jadric, however, questioned the report and told BIRN that the teen was only asked to leave "because he was on part of the beach that is still under construction.

"The waiters ... asked him to leave for his own sake, so he didn't get hurt. He climbed over the construction fence and he was asked to leave because otherwise we would be held responsible," he added.

Jandric insisted that they allow people to enter the beach without paying and do not ban them from bringing their own food and drinks, either.

"I neither could nor would ban people from freely entering the beach and...

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