Cerar Visits Plenković, No Agreement on Arbitration Implementation

Total Croatia News

Croatian and Slovenian Prime Ministers Andrej Plenković and Miro Cerar held talks in Zagreb on Tuesday with the goal of resolving the border disputes ahead of December 29, the deadline envisioned as the implementation of the decision

The Croatian Prime Minister was asked what will take place on December 29, when Slovenia expects the arbitration decision to be put into force.

“It’s a day like any other. Croatia doesn’t feel bound by it and you all know what the reasons were and why Croatia left the arbitration process,” said Plenković, as reported by Jutarnji List on December 19, 2017.

“It is important to use dialogue to come closer to a final solution for our border disputes, acceptable to both sides. Only dialogue can resolve this situation. We are rebuilding two bridges at the Dragonja and Metlika border crossings, in order to send a message as prime ministers. Our message is – the border, whatever it looks like, must be accepted by both sides and confirmed in national parliaments,” added Plenković.

His Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar said: “We spoke about the arbitration decision as December 29 is the last day to implement it. We’re ready and will continue with implementation where we don’t need Croatia. Other implementations require consultations with Croatia. We didn’t manage to bring our standpoints closer together, but it’s important to respect the decision and this is a key issue for both nations. I believe that only the implementation of the arbitration decision can bring about better cooperation and have it as an example of good practice for the entire region. The fact is, the decision cannot be partially implemented and contains a land and sea portion. As far as I understood my colleague Andrej, there is a possibility that Croatia views this differently, but we only trust the arbitration decision.”

“As for the legal framework, Croatia seeks to arrange a state border protocol regarding the water at Piran Bay and Savudrija. This is a job for experts from both countries,” said Plenković, before replying to a question about whether or not Croatia will implement the arbitration decision, and what the greatest success of Tuesday’s meeting was: “I repeat, the intent is important and I emphasise that we are coherent on the land border, some 90 percent. At this moment, Croatia cannot implement a decision which we do not find binding. The most important message from today’s meeting is that we’re conducting dialogue in European spirit and it leaves no doubts.”

“The dialogue was open and clear. I believe it is fair for everyone to see our positions and that’s important for both sides. Our standpoints are still different. Slovenia will continue on the road it has taken, and we hope for Croatia to join us,” replied Cerar. “Our standpoint is clear. Non-implementation of the decision means violation of international and European law and we will resort to a lawsuit if Croatia does not honour the decision,” said the Slovenian Prime Minister.

Plenković concluded the press conference by stating: “We’re closer to finding a solution to the border dispute than we were before, but it takes a certain amount of flexibility, on both sides. We would both be glad to resolve this. And I’m certain that, once we analyse the good will from both of us, we can gradually reach a solution to appease both sides, and resolve the issues burdening our nations for the past half a century.”

Cerar arrived to Zagreb with strict limitation which does not provide space to manoeuvre in bilateral talks toward a compromise. The President of the Social Democrats, Dejan Židan, and Chief of the Retirees Democratic Party Karl Erjavec told Slovenia’s Miro Cerar to be careful, and also expressed their pessimism about the final outcome of the talks.

“I only hope Cerar will not sign anything or take on any commitments in Zagreb, as we’ve had a bad experience with Croatian politics. I would recommend for our Prime Minister to be cautious and bear in mind that the arbitration decision is a legal act and must remain as such,” said Erjavec, who was opposed to Cerar even accepting the invitation from Plenković.

Erjavec reiterated the fact that his Ministry is preparing materials for a lawsuit against Croatia at the EU court in Luxembourg. Slovenia considers the involvement of European Commission Deputy President Frans Timmermans crucial, but doesn’t cite how the EC could force Croatia to accept an arbitration which it abandoned.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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