Saturday, 14 August 2021

Passengers Have To Wait 5 Hrs To Leave for Slovenia at Macelj Border Crossing

ZAGREB, 14 Aug, 2021 - Passengers leaving Croatia at the Macelj-Gruškovje border crossing with Slovenia have to wait five hours, while those leaving at other border crossings with Slovenia have to wait between one and one and a half hours, the Croatian Auto Club said on Saturday afternoon.

Passengers entering Croatia from Slovenia have to wait the longest at Brod Na Kupi, three hours, and at Pasjak, two hours.

Those entering from Bosnia and Herzegovina have to wait two hours at the Jasenovac border crossing and one hour at Stara Gradiška.

Passengers entering or leaving Croatia at the Goričan II border crossing with Hungary have to wait one hour.

Those entering Croatia from Serbia at the Bajakovo-Batrovci border crossing have to wait one hour and those leaving half an hour, as do those entering at Tovarnik-Šid.

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Saturday, 19 December 2020

Queues of 8 Hours at Bregana Border Entering Croatia from Slovenia

December 19, 2020 - With the festive season almost here, huge queues appear on Croatia's borders, with the current wait at the main Bregana border now 8 hours. 

I haven't left the house for over two weeks, and the more I look at the big bad world out there, the less I want to leave the sofa any time soon. 

With many things closed due to the pandemic, and inter-county restrictions coming at midnight on Tuesday, there is less incentive to move anyway.  But there are plenty of people with plans to head home for Christmas to family in Croatia, and perhaps an even larger number needing to transit through Croatia to get to their home countries in time for Christmas. 

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And the pressure is building on Croatia's bordes, particularly at the main Bregana border between Croatia and Slovenia, where the current waiting time to come info Croatia is 8 hours, according to HAK. Traffic in the other direction is minimal. 

"Procedures are a bit stricter in both Croatia and Slovenia, after the decision and each passenger must be registered and checked whether they meet the conditions of entry or transit to the Republic of Croatia. By 6 pm on Friday more than 9000 passengers crossed, and we expect even more crowds over the weekend and next week on the eve of the holidays ", said Marijan Burić, Assistant Chief for State Border Protection, as a guest on RTL Danas.

"However, the turnover is significantly lower, by 70 percent compared to last year if we look at the entire 12 months, and these days it has decreased by 35 to 40 percent compared to last year," said Buric.

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You can see the current waiting times at Croatia's borders, information which is regularly updated by HAK here, and you are advised to check the latest situation before you travel. 

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Sunday, 17 May 2020

Who Can Cross the Croatia Slovenia Border? Who Cannot? A May 17, 2020 Border Visit

 May 17, 2020 - In the absence of clear travel information, TCN visits the Croatia Slovenia border to find who is - and who is not - allowed to cross the border into Croatia. It was an illuminating visit. 

 Are Croatia's borders open or not? If yes, who can cross them, and under what circumstances? With so many tourists wanting to come, can they jump in the car and come?

After Croatia led the world in clear communication on the health aspects of the corona threat, that clarity seems a distant memory. Stories of foreign tourists entering the country are flooding the media, and it seems that the season is starting. But is it?

Here is the official COVID-19 page from the Ministry of Tourism which one would hope would provide the answer. If you can find it, you are a better man than me. 

According to the Croatian National Tourist Board recently revamped travel info page, all the answers can be found at a very helpful email address. Insider tip - good luck with that one from personal experience.  

Here is some useful info from Croatian Roads (HAK), but with all those specific questions resting on the Ministry of Tourism responding to an email.  

I am still trying to find out the actual procedure for crossing the border. As my colleague patiently waited for the email reply (now Day 4), I concluded that there was nothing better than finding out from personal experience. 

Why not go to the Croatia Slovenia border myself and see what is happening. As these are sensitive times, I contacted the Ministry of the Interior of both Croatia and Slovenia, stating my intentions and asking for their assistance. 

Croatia 1, Slovenia 0. 

I received an automated response from the Slovenians the next day (in Slovenian). I have heard nothing since. From the Croatian side, I received this:

Dear Sir,

we agree with the recording at the said border crossing, without statements from police officers and other officials.

Please comply with the Law on State Border Surveillance, follow the instructions of police officers and keep your stay at the border crossing to a minimum.

The same is necessary for the smooth implementation of measures and actions carried out at the border crossing.

We also confirm that we have received your inquiry sent to us on 15th of May 2020., and we inform you that we will send you an answer when we gather all the necessary information.
 
Best regards,

There are three border crossings just outside Zagreb around Bregana, and I decided to visit all three, the two small ones first. 

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The first was quiet, with just a few cars coming from the Slovenian side. The Croatian border official was polite and let me proceed to her Slovenian colleague, who declined to answer questions as I didn't have a Slovenian official approval. 

There were a couple of Slovenian bikers who were happy to talk to me. This was not their first time across the border. They had a business in the next village, all the appropriate paperwork, so the crossing was problem-free. Get the necessary paperwork, an invitation from a Croatian business, for example, and all is fine. 

croatia-slovenia-border (3).jpg

I was planning to film a video report but I now how sensitive the police are about filming at borders. Ok, true story - I left my phone charger in Dugopolje and my phone died. 

I did get a copy of the recommendations (and in English!) for each tourist arriving. You can see the advice at the bottom of this article. 

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Next up, the best Croatia Slovenia border of them all (if you really want to research the subject, here is the Total Croatia guide to crossing the Croatia Slovenia border in normal times).

Before the migrant crisis, this border had one of the coolest border restaurants ever - the bar was in one country,  the toilets in the other. Imagine having to leave the Schengen zone to pee!

The restaurant is now closed for normal service, but it does still service groups, the owner told us through the gate today. But the erection of the wire and gate during the migrant crisis killed all business. The border is normally open from 0600 - 2300, but has been closed these past few weeks - and remains so.

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I introduced myself to the Croatian police, who were very polite, helpful and efficient. My documents checked, I was free to observe and to talk to people travelling both ways. I really liked thes happy Slovenians, who had been following the local news and got everything in place regarding paperwork. They were off to a campsite on Krk where their family had a property, and they made sure they had an official invitation, with a stamp for good measure. 

croatia-slovenia-border (4).jpg

Now that the borders in Slovenia are open, they did not have to worry about self-isolation on return. This is an issue which people are asking about. Until I get official answers, all I can say is talk to your embassy about the latest info, both incoming to Croatia and when you return home. They will have the best (and official) info. 

There were lots of foreign plates, mostly German, but few foreigners. The Croatian diaspora returning home from Germany, Austria, Holland. A Montenegrin living in Munich, who has been going back and forth for weeks.  

Processing time was about 5 minutes per car, but this was the process that reassured me. For the word in Croatia is that the borders are open, which is great news for tourism. But it would be highly irresponsible to simply let everyone in without knowing where they are going. 

And not everyone is getting in.

Currently, you can pass the border as an EU citizen if you have an official business invite, own real estate, or can prove a tourism reservation in a hotel or similar. 

And if you can't, you don't come in. 

The idea, I realised, is the ability to control the information in case of trouble. 

The transit process (and PLEASE note, this is just the Croatian border, I did not get permission for the Slovenian one, is that you can rock up at the border, show your ID and certified reservation or business invite, or real estate papers, and be allowed in. They will want to know how long you will stay,  address and your contact details, as well as physically showing your invitation. The registration process is a swipe of your ID, but then the time-consuming process of manually adding details of your invitation, contact details etc. Necessary but time-consuming. 

By controlling the whereabouts of tourists who enter, it seems, this is how Croatia will control the corona threat. And not everyone gets in... 

My favourite moment was the pre-crossing chat with a Slovenian guy from a local town.  He winked and told me he was off to see his Croatian mistress for lunch and a bit of fun.  Unfortunately, his illicit lover was left a little frustrated, as they both forgot to sort the official invite (presumably the wife might have found out).  No entry.  

Two very jolly Slovenian ladies of a certain age were thrilled to be able to get to their beloved Adriatic. They had no plans, the borders were open and they would decide where when they felt like it. No entry.  

A Croat from Germany with a business meeting to attend in Zagreb. The invite consisted of an email. After a long discussion (and some phone calls), he was allowed through. Lesson learned and top recommendation - get a proper, stamped invitation. It will save time for you and all behind you, and will eliminate the risk of refusal. 

And that's as much as I can tell you, as someone not part of the system. 

Check before you travel, make sure you have the documentation ready, and you should be fine.

Recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health. 

Croatian and foreign nationals entering the Republic of Croatia must comply with these recommendations and instructions in the period of 14 days following their crossing of the state border, as follows: 

During the first 14 days following the entry into the Republic of Croatia, accommodation may be left only in absolutely necessary situations: 

carrying out business activities if business was the purpose of entry into the Republic of Croatia, carrying out necessary activities with continuous increased hygiene measures in place. 

When leaving accommodation in absolutely necessary situations, it is recommended to wear a mask or a covering for the nose and mouth, to keep a physical distance from others (a minimum of 1.5 meters) and to practice hand hygiene. 

Hands should be washed as often as possible with warm water and soap and/or a hand disinfectant should be used that needs to be well rubbed on the palms. 

Touching one's face, mouth, nose and eyes should be avoided. 

Using public transport should be avoided. 

ln the means of transport, a person should preferably be alone or exclusively with persons with whom he/she shares accommodation. 

Grouping and public gatherings should be consistently avoided. 

During business meetings, it is necessary to meet with as few persons as possible, to ensure a physical distance of 1.5 meters and availability of disinfectants, to avoid unnecessary meetings. 

During their stay in the accommodation, the persons concerned prepare the food themselves or use food and beverage delivery services. 

Payments are made by using non-cash card payments or online services. 

Body temperature should be measured every morning. lf it exceeds 37.2 degrees, it should be taken again after 10 minutes. lf the temperature again exceeds 37.2 degrees, the person should stay at home/one's accommodation and contact the chosen general practitioner, 

if any (Croatian nationals), or a competent local epidemiologist. 

ln case of any symptoms of acute respiratory infection (cough, sore throat, high temperature, short breath/difficulty in breathing,  loss of smell and taste), it is necessary to stay at home/your accommodation and contact the chosen general practitioner, if any (Croatian nationals), or a competent local epidemiologist. 

ln case of sudden onset of severe, life-threatening symptoms, the person should contact the emergency medical services. 

ln case of respiratory disease symptoms. 

lf you develop respiratory disease symptoms (high temperature, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, weakness), you should contact your chosen doctor by phone who will, based on your medical condition, assess the need for you to be tested for the new coronavirus. 

lf you require medical assistance for reasons other than a respiratory disease, you should phone your chosen doctor or one of the members of your household can contact the doctor for consultations and arranging a house call. 

Do not visit healthcare facilities without having previously contacted them by phone. 

You can find more information on the coronavirus disease and measures for reducing the risk of spreading the disease on the website of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, or from your chosen general practitioner and a competent local epidemiologist.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Slovenian Committee Rejects Motion on Activating Troops Along Border with Croatia

ZAGREB, April 2, 2020 - The government-sponsored motion to give some of the police powers to army servicemen along the border with Croatia was turned down by the Slovenian parliament's defence committee on Wednesday evening.

For the proposal to be adopted, a two-third majority vote was necessary. However, during the vote, out of the 19 members who attended the committee's meeting in Ljubljana, 11 voted for the proposal, which was not enough to have the required two-third majority.

As a result, the motion could not be added to the agenda of the parliament.

Proposing the motion, the government led by Prime Minister Janez Janša said that the army, deployed in a five-kilometre-wide belt along the border with Croatia should be given some of the police powers in order to help relieve the burden on police officers so they can better be deployed to help keep the coronavirus epidemic in check.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Slovenia to Send Army to Croatian Border

ZAGREB, March 25, 2020 - Slovenia's Interior Minister Ales Hojs on Wednesday stated that deploying Slovenia's army on the border with Croatia is essential because of illegal migration and because the police have additional duties during the current epidemiological crisis.

Activating our army to guard our southern border will be essential in the current situation with the spread of coronavirus, Hojs told a press conference in Ljubljana.

The activation of the relevant law that would give the army certain police powers and the possibility of protecting the border requires the support of two-thirds of the legislature. That is why Hojs said that he would meet with opposition caucuses over the next few days in an effort to convince them that the procedure is essential.

He said that the motion to activate the army for tasks on the border has the support of President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Janez Janša's cabinet, so he believes that the bill will be passed with the necessary parliamentary majority, giving the army powers for a period of three months, i.e. for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

Hojs said that deploying the army in the current situation is essential because of increased migration and the scope of work the police are involved with within the country related to the spread of COVID-19.

"We do not have any infected migrants in Slovenia yet but the number of illegal migrants caught in Slovenia at the start of the year was 70% higher than last year. There are six thousand migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We do not know where they are located nor whether they are infected with coronavirus. That is why the protection of our border to the south is currently one of the government's priorities," Hojs said and added that while the coronavirus epidemic lasts, the government's main task is to protect Slovenia's citizens.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Future Slovenian Foreign Minister in Favour of Strengthening Relations with Croatia

ZAGREB, March 10, 2020 - The candidate for new Slovenian foreign minister, Anže Logar, on Tuesday spoke in favour of strengthening relations with Croatia while protecting Slovenian national interests.

Speaking before the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Logar said it was positive that initiatives had been taken at the presidential level to build confidence with Croatia, while no such encouragement had come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of late.

"We should closely cooperate with Croatia and support initiatives that will build mutual trust, while at the same time taking account of the need to ensure respect for international law and court rulings," Logar said while presenting his programme as the candidate of Prime Minister-designate Janez Janša for the future Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In his opinion, the present Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not maintain close contacts with Croatia and did not have a good insight into the relationship with Croatia.

"Croatia is just one of our neighbours, we have outstanding issues with it, but we will resolve them sooner or later," Logar said.

He said that Slovenia should boost parliamentary contacts with Croatia and that it would have a better insight into their relationship if it appointed a special commissioner for relations with Croatia.

Logar said that better cooperation with Croatia was also important for strategic reasons, citing illegal migration and the coronavirus outbreak, adding that there would be more challenges in the future that would require cooperation.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Slovenia: Talks with Croatia Possible Only on Implementation of Border Arbitration Ruling

ZAGREB, February 3, 2020 - Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said on Sunday that talks on the border issue with Croatia were possible but that they could only be about ways to implement the border arbitration award which Ljubljana considers binding, and that dialogue could be started by Presidents Borut Pahor and Zoran Milanović.

"Talks are necessary. They are possible but they could only be about the arbitration award, that is, ways to implement it," Cerar said in an interview with Slovenian Television.

Dialogue could start between Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Croatian President-elect Zoran Milanović after Milanović takes office, since the Slovenian government resigned last Monday and now operates only as a caretaker government.

Cerar dismissed criticism in Slovenia that he was responsible for Slovenia losing a case against Croatia before the Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg.

Cerar said Slovenia had sued Croatia in 2018, at the end of the term of a government that was led by him, but the lawsuit was supported by all parties making up the then ruling coalition and a large portion of parliamentary parties.

He said the lawsuit was worth the effort even though the Luxembourg-based court said it did not have jurisdiction over it.

Cerar said the lawsuit was worth the effort also because of the media statement the EU court published last Friday before publishing the integral version of its ruling. That statement, even though a sentence with the same wording was not included in the ruling itself, says that Croatia and Slovenia must implement the border arbitration ruling and that the border between them is defined, claims Cerar.

The government in Zagreb, however, has dismissed Cerar's claims as factually incorrect because Slovenian media cited only a part of the court statement.

Asked whether early parliamentary elections were possible after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's resignation last week or a new parliamentary majority would be formed, Cerar said both options were possible.

More news about the border issue between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 31 January 2020

EU Court Says It Has No Jurisdiction over Slovenia's Action Against Croatia in Border Dispute

ZAGREB, January 31, 2020 - The Court of Justice of the European Union announced on Friday that it had no jurisdiction to rule on a Slovenian case against Croatia over alleged infringements of European law resulting from Croatia's failure to implement a border arbitration ruling, the Luxembourg-based court stated today.

The decision on non-jurisdiction means that Croatia's arguments are accepted and further proceedings cease automatically.

Rulings handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union are final and non-appealable.

Slovenia brought the action against Croatia under Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, moving that the Court of Justice establish that Croatia is in breach of Articles 2 and 4 of the Treaty which relate to respect for the rule of law and loyal cooperation between member states. Slovenia also submits that Croatia is in breach of the regulation on the common fisheries policy, border control and maritime spatial planning.

Croatia, on the other hand, argues that the Court of Justice has no jurisdiction to rule in the present case given that it is not really about the application and interpretation of EU law. According to Croatia, the dispute in this case refers to the interpretation and application of international law and therefore it should be resolved by applying international law and by means envisaged for the peaceful resolution of disputes, including negotiations.

More news about the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 24 January 2020

EU Court to Announce Whether It Has Jurisdiction over Slovenia-Croatia Border Dispute

ZAGREB, January 24, 2020 - The Court of Justice of the European Union will announce on January 31 whether it has jurisdiction to rule on a Slovenian case against Croatia over alleged infringements of European law resulting from Croatia's failure to implement a border arbitration ruling, the Luxembourg-based court said on Friday.

The Court's Advocate General Priit Pikamae of Estonia issued his opinion in mid-December saying that the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. His opinion, however, is not binding and it is difficult to predict the Court's judgment. The practice to date shows that in cases before the Grand Chamber, as is the case with Slovenia's action against Croatia, the Court has followed the advocate general's opinion in about 50% of the cases.

Slovenia brought the action against Croatia under Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, moving that the Court of Justice establish that Croatia is in breach of Articles 2 and 4 of the Treaty which relate to respect for the rule of law and loyal cooperation between member states. Slovenia also submits that Croatia is in breach of the regulation on the common fisheries policy, border control and maritime spatial planning.

Croatia, on the other hand, argues that the Court of Justice has no jurisdiction to rule in the present case given that it is not really about the application and interpretation of EU law. According to Croatia, the dispute in this case refers to the interpretation and application of international law and therefore it should be resolved by applying international law and by means envisaged for the peaceful resolution of disputes, including negotiations.

If the Court rules that the case does not fall within its jurisdiction, the case is automatically terminated. If it declares that it has jurisdiction, or partial jurisdiction, a hearing on the substance of the action will be held, after which the Court will hand down its ruling.

More news about the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Pahor Doesn't Think Milanović Will Change His Opinion on Border Arbitration

ZAGREB, January 7, 2020 - Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on Monday that he did not believe that Croatia's president-elect Zoran Milanović would change his opinion on the arbitration ruling on the two countries' border dispute, however, Pahor, promises to "give chance to dialogue" at the start of their relations as two presidents.

Pahor told reporters in Ljubljana that he had telephoned the newly-elected Croatian president to congratulate him on winning the election on Sunday, and also added that he accepted the invitation to attend Milanović's inauguration in Zagreb in a few weeks' time.

While Milanović served as Croatia's prime minister in 2015, Zagreb decided to withdraw from the arbitration process due to the behaviour of Slovenia's representatives that contaminated those proceeding.

However, Pahor said that the relations with Milanović as soon as he steps into office as the Croatian president should start "with open arms."

Pahor told the press in Ljubljana that he was glad to hear from Milanović that one of his priorities would be to improve the bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries.

Nevertheless, Pahor does not believe that Milanović, whom he knows for 15 years, will change his mind on the arbitration award only because he is now the president.

Pahor also said that Slovenia would be a friend dedicated to dialogue in seeking a solution, however, he reiterated Slovenia's position on insisting on the implementation of the arbitration award on demarcation of the border between the two countries.

We should seek through dialogue a model for a consensual demarcation in accordance with the arbitration ruling and thus close the last difficult issue stemming from the breakup of the former (federal) state, Pahor said.

Also, the leader of the Slovenian Social Democrats (SD), Dejan Židan, who is the parliament speaker in Ljubljana, extended his congratulations to Milanović on the election win.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

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