Croatian-Slovenian Relations Deteriorate Further Due to Border Dispute

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The date for the planned September meeting between the two prime ministers has not been agreed yet because there is no progress on the solution to the border arbitration dispute.

The date of the new meeting between Slovenian Prime Minister Mire Cerar and his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković, which they said would happen in September, has not yet been determined, and it is not even clear whether the meeting will take place at all, writes the Slovenian daily Delo, reports Večernji List on August 26, 2017.

According to available information, the date of the planned September meeting has not been decided because there is no progress on the content of the conversation. Cerar allegedly wants to talk only about the implementation of the arbitration decision which Slovenia holds binding for both sides. The Croatian Prime Minister wants the agenda to include all open questions. He argues that the arbitration was compromised by Slovenia’s actions and that the arbitration decision is not binding for Croatia, so it will not be implemented.

At their meeting in Ljubljana on 12 July, two weeks after the arbitration tribunal announced its decision on the border dispute, Plenković and Cerar confirmed that the two sides’ views on arbitration were opposite and that they had not changed, but added they were committed to continuing the dialogue, and a new meeting was scheduled for September.

However, in recent days Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec and Prime Minister Miro Cerar gave a series of statements on the issue, making their position towards the issue more uncompromising and announcing there were preconditions for the Zagreb meeting to go ahead.

Erjavec commented on a statement made by Prime Minister Plenković in Savudrija, when he told Croatian fishermen, who are concerned about the border in the Bay of Savudrija, that they could behave in their activities at sea as they had done so far. The Slovenian Foreign Minister said that Plenković’s statement was worrying and unnecessary. He added that it did not contribute to a good atmosphere between the two countries and insisted that the verdict should be applied. According to it, more than three-quarters of the bay would go to Slovenia.

Prime Minister Cerar told the Slovenian STA news agency that he and his foreign minister believe that a meeting with Plenković would be useful, but only “if the Croatian side is ready to talk about the implementation of the arbitration decision.” If Croatia did not change its position and decided to delay the implementation and sought “excuses,” then Slovenia would turn to the European Commission to make Croatia more cooperative, said the Slovenian Prime Minister.

Diplomatic contacts about the planned meeting in Zagreb are being conducted “at the highest level”, but there has been no progress regarding the agenda of the meeting, so even the meeting itself could come into question.

Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić will participate at the Bled strategic summit which is being held in about ten days in Slovenia. The international conference is perhaps an opportunity for her meeting with Slovenian officials. However, Slovenian Minister Erjavec has ruled out that such contacts could lead to a step forward in the preparations for the two prime ministers’ meeting in Zagreb.

“An individual meeting with the Croatian minister is not necessary, unless she comes with her prime minister’s permit to present new Croatian views regarding the implementation of the arbitration tribunal,” Erjavec said on Thursday, adding that he did not believe this was possible, especially after the statement given on Wednesday by Plenković to the fishermen in Savudrija, “inviting them to make incidents,” as Erjavec explained.

Translated from Večernji List.

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