ZAGREB, February 26, 2019 – Frans Timmermans, the current vice-president of the European Commission and the lead candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for the next EC president, told the Slovenian news agency STA on Tuesday that the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute was a bilateral issue and that the Commission was “crystal clear” in its response to that case.
This Dutch politician and diplomat said in the interview that the Slovenia-Croatia border row was a bilateral issue and that the arbitration award on the matter should be implemented.
The Commission was crystal clear about that and I can’t see why someone does not want to understand that, Timmermans was quoted as saying before his official visit to Ljubljana on Thursday.
He went on to say that the parties to the case cannot absolve themselves from the responsibility for the matter and shift it to the Commission.
Last year, the Commission refused to join Slovenia’s complaint against Croatia which is accused by Ljubljana of violating European law by refusing to implement the arbitration ruling.
Zagreb refuses to implement the arbitration award, insisting that the arbitration process was compromised by Slovenia.
Timmermans also criticised the current European Parliament president, Antonio Tajani, for his recent controversial statement at a memorial ceremony for Italians killed in the aftermath of the Second World War by Yugoslav partisans.
Tajani’s statement about “Italian Istria and Dalmatia” has provoked public outcry in Slovenia and Croatia, after which he sent letters of apology to top officials in Ljubljana and Zagreb. Tajani, an official of the Italian party Forza Italia and a member of the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, insists that his comment was “in no way a territorial claim”.
Asked by STA if Tajani’s speech was reason enough for his resignation, as demanded by Social Democrats in Slovenia and Croatia, Timmermans said he would not insist on his resignation but criticised Tajani for instrumentalising the past in his speech. History should be left to historians, Timmermans said.
On 23 February, three months ahead of European Parliament elections, European Socialists held a congress in Madrid, at which they confirmed Timmermans as their candidate for president of the European Commission and presented the programme with which they will compete with the Conservatives and the Eurosceptics.
A delegation of Croatia’s Social Democratic Party, led by its president Davor Bernardić, attended the Madrid congress.
More news on the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute can be found in the Politics section.