Croatian Government Rejects Slovenian Fines for Croatian Fishermen

By 27 January 2018

ZAGREB, January 27, 2018 (Hina) - Croatia on Saturday sent a diplomatic note to Slovenia over the fines it sent Croatian fishermen for fishing in a disputed area of Savudrija Bay, announcing that it would respond in the same way.

Croatian fishermen from Savudrija and Umag have been sent 14 fines under the Slovenian misdemeanours law for crossing the Slovenian border without permission, Slovenian police said on their website, adding that those who do not pay the fines could be banned from entering Slovenia.

This prompted the Croatian Foreign Ministry to send a diplomatic note to the Slovenian Embassy in Zagreb, claiming the fishermen were "in Croatian areas of the sea." "Because of these attempts by Slovenia's state authorities to unilaterally implement the compromised and, for Croatia, unacceptable arbitration decision, Croatia will be forced to respond in the same way in order to protect its territory," the Ministry said in a press release.

Slovenia's announcement of the fines represents conduct which is not in the spirit of good neighbourly cooperation and European values and which tries to involve citizens, including fishermen living and working near the border, in the resolution of the outstanding border issue, the Ministry said.

The ministry recalls that two European Union and NATO member states have the responsibility to resolve outstanding issues peacefully, in the spirit of mutual respect, without taking unilateral measures, and once again calls on Slovenia to continue the dialogue on the outstanding border issue, the press release said.

In the meantime, Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Davor Bernardić asked the government on Saturday to pay all the expenses when Croatian fishermen received fines from Slovenia.

Asked by the press in Krapina to comment on the fact that Slovenia had sent Croatian fishermen fines, claiming they were fishing in its waters, Bernardić criticised the government for not having solved the problem over the past year. He said he expected the government to cover all the fishermen's expenses and to make sure that their livelihood was not in danger in any way.

Bernardić said the SDP had two demands of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković regarding the Croatian-Slovenian border arbitration ruling - that it clearly say what Croatia gained and what it lost, and that it present a strategy to resolve the crisis.

He said Plenković's recent meeting with Slovenian PM Miro Cerar was not enough, as both stood by their positions. "Croatia needs a serious government, serious politicians and seriousness in problem solving," he said, adding that the government had done nothing in 18 months "and they still have neither a vision nor a plan."

On Saturday morning, Croatian fishermen denied they had received any fines.