Croats and Slovenes are like spoiled children, say the German media.
The decision of the arbitration tribunal on the Bay of Piran has been covered by the German language media as well. The Austrian daily Der Standard states that “the dispute over the borders between Slovenia and Croatia is spoiled children’s politics,” while German daily Die Welt writes with amazement about “an unknown border dispute in the middle of the European Union,” reports Index.hr on 3 July 2017.
“People could be called cowards when they leave a game after realising they would lose. Croatia did something similar in the border arbitration with Slovenia in 2015. In addition to the legal issues, the key role was played by honour, because Slovenia vetoed Croatia’s accession negotiations with the European Union in 2008. The border dispute between these two Central European countries is charged with nationalism: whoever makes their neighbour angry scores political points at home,” writes left-liberal Der Standard in its commentary on the arbitration decision on the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia.
The Austrian daily also says that Croatia’s withdrawal from arbitration demonstrates “a highly problematic relationship with the rule of law” and that Croatia shows it is ready to accept a verdict only when it serves its purposes. “Such political position of Croatia could have consequences for its relations with other neighbouring countries.” Croatia could veto the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union, Der Standard argues and recalls that Croatia has already put a short-term veto on Serbia.
At the end of the commentary, Der Standard states that so far Greece has been the most prominent country in the Balkans when it comes to the blocking of Macedonia, but that “now Croatia could take over the title of the main brakeman.”
German conservative daily Die Welt writes that international arbitration at The Hague “was supposed to end a conflict,” but that the decision “escalated the situation.” The daily recalls that Croatia and Slovenia “have been fighting for more than 25 years about borders” and predicts that the new ruling will be followed by new incidents in the Piran Bay, which has already happened. Given the “unstable situation in the Western Balkans, the conflict between the two EU member states is disturbing.”
Die Welt notes that many countries are disappointed with the slow pace of accession process, that Putin and Erdogan are becoming more active in the region, and that the Croat-Slovenian border dispute should be viewed in a wider geopolitical context, adding that it would take just one spark for a fire to start. It considers the behaviour of Slovenia and Croatia to be irresponsible. It adds that Slovenia has received support from Germany that the decision should be accepted, while Croatia has announced it does not intend to do so.
The border dispute is “an ideal topic for nationalists,” and Die Welt adds that in both Slovenia and Croatia “nationalist forces have strengthened.” At the end of the article, the German daily forecasts that Slovenia could use border controls as a means of exerting pressure on Croatia and creating long traffic columns at border crossings at the peak of the tourist season.