ZAGREB, September 16, 2018 – The European Commission was right not to interfere in the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute, the Croatian government said on Saturday in a comment on an article in the German Der Spiegel weekly which says that EC President Jean-Claude Juncker did not want to become involved in the sea border dispute between the two countries even though the EC’s legal experts believe that Slovenia is right.
The article “Juncker-Kroatien Connection” in the latest edition of Der Spiegel says that, in a document dated May 18, the EC’s legal service clearly sided with Slovenia but that Juncker dismissed its proposed “substantiated statement”.
The legal service believes that many segments of the complaint filed by Slovenia as evidence of violation of EU law by Croatia are substantiated, reads the document signed by Karen Banks of the EC’s legal service, as reported by Der Spiegel. The document concludes that the EU must therefore accept the ruling by the arbitral tribunal in charge of the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute.
Noting that it does not comment on internal documents, the Croatian government said in a reply to a query by Slovenia’s STA news agency that the EC’s decision not to interfere in the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia was a right decision.
The position of Croatia, which has withdrawn from a bilateral agreement on border arbitration after Slovenia compromised it and which does not recognise the arbitration ruling, is that the border issue is a bilateral one and should be resolved bilaterally in line with international law, the government said.
“Croatia’s position is that Croatia and Slovenia, as two friendly countries and members of NATO and the EU, should continue their dialogue and resolve the border issue to the mutual satisfaction and in the spirit of good neighbourly relations,” the Croatian government said.
Der Spiegel says that Juncker is unwilling to state the EC’s position on the border dispute because in February this year Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who, Der Spiegel notes, is like Juncker a member of the European People’s Party group, asked Juncker not to do it because if the EC had supported Slovenia, “the damage to Croatia’s image would be huge”.
Juncker, the weekly says, does not want the EC to become involved in the dispute as “its involvement would not help anyone”.