Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Slovenia Says Accepting Border Arbitration Would Facilitate Croatia's Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, September 4, 2019 - The Slovenian government would find it "much easier" to support Croatia's Schengen Area entry if Zagreb accepted the border arbitration ruling, President Borut Pahor said in Šibenik on Wednesday.

Speaking after meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Pahor said he did not wish to prejudge the Slovenian government's decision on Croatia's Schengen entry, "but I think it would probably be easier if Croatia met its obligation from the arbitration ruling."

Once the European Commission finds that Croatia meets all the Schengen criteria, its entry to the area must be supported by all member states.

"Dialogues such as these can contribute to resolving this issue...I'm not only very much in favour of this dialogue, it existed also ten years ago," Pahor said, speaking of his past cooperation, as Slovenia's prime minister, with Croatia's then PM Jadranka Kosor.

"The circumstances were demanding then, even people on both sides of the border were quarrelling. Today it's much easier and we can indeed find a solution," he said, adding that he saw no alternative to dialogue.

Grabar-Kitarović said Croatia met all the technical requirements for joining Schengen and that all inspections so far showed that this was being done in time, in line with all regulations.

"I believe in the support of all member states when a decision will be made on joining the Schengen Area as that's in everyone's interest. That would strengthen Croatia's guarding of the external border," she said.

"I'm always repeating that Croatia and Slovenia are friendly countries, that we can rise above these outstanding issues," she added.

The three presidents met in Šibenik which was the venue of the 6th annual meeting of the three countries' heads of state.

Grabar-Kitarović, Pahor and Van der Bellen also talked about the EU's future, Croatia's EU presidency in the first half of next year, the future of Southeast Europe, the Three Seas Initiative and climate change.

They supported the opening Albania's and North Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic integration negotiations as soon as possible, as well as granting Bosnia and Herzegovina EU candidate status.

Grabar-Kitarović said they believed it was "absolutely necessary" to open negotiations with Skopje and Tirana by October.

The first meeting between the three countries' heads of state was held in March 2014 in Vienna when the then presidents Borut Pahor (Slovenia), Heinz Fischer (Austria) and Ivo Josipović (Croatia) met.

That meeting was followed up later in Logarska Dolina, Slovenia, Varaždin, Croatia, Salzburg, Austria and once again in Slovenia in Goriška Brda.

The three presidents were to have met in May. However, the meeting was deferred after the Austrian coalition government fell following a corruption scandal involving far-right Freedom party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

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

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Slovenia Putting up More Fencing Along Border with Croatia

ZAGREB, August 22, 2019 - In an effort to protect itself from an influx of migrants Slovenia has begun to erect additional fencing along the border with Croatia in those sections where migrant entries have increased, Slovenia media reported on Thursday.

Quoting its sources, POP-TV on Wednesday evening reported that an additional 4 kilometres of panel fencing would be erected over the next few weeks due to the increased number of illegal crossings, adding that the areas along the Kupa river between Vinica and Zunica would then be entirely protected.

The Interior Ministry has said that additional technical barriers are being put up in those areas where it is essential to prevent illegal migrants.

"Where the barriers will be put up exactly and to what extent will be decided based on concrete evaluations and recommendations by the police," the ministry said in a statement to the press.

Slovenia first put up technical barriers to stop migrants during the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 to 2016 and continued to erect an additional 40 kilometres during the summer months of this year.

There are currently 179 kilometres of "temporary technical barriers," along the border with Croatia, 116 kilometres of which is barbed wire fencing and 63 kilometres of panel fencing, the ministry confirmed.

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

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Croatia Remains Open to Dialogue with Slovenia on Border Issue

ZAGREB, August 17, 2019 - Croatia remains ready for dialogue with Slovenia with an aim of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the outstanding border issue, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said in a press release on Friday.

Zagreb does not want to be involved in counter-productive media discussions on the matter, the Croatian ministry said after the Slovenian foreign ministry issued a press release in a bid to counter the statements which Croatian Minister Gordan Grlić Radman made in his recent interview to the N1 commercial broadcaster.

"Croatian remains ready for dialogue and believes that there is no need to raise tensions through press releases. On the other hand, Croatia believes that calm and level-headed talks can facilitate efforts to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the issue (of border demarcation) in the spirit of good neighbourly tradition between Croatia and Slovenia," the Croatian ministry said.

Earlier on Friday, the Slovenian foreign ministry accused Croatian Minister Grlić Radman of having said untruths about the Slovenia-Croatia border dispute and arbitration.

In his recent interview with the N1 broadcaster, Minister Grlić Radman spoke about his informal meeting with his Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar while he was on a vacation in Croatia this summer. The Croatian minister also recalled the chronology of the border dispute.

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

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Slovenia: EU Should Not Pamper Croatia Regarding Border Arbitration Ruling

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - Slovenian President Borut Pahor reiterated his view on the border dispute with Croatia on Wednesday, accusing the European Union of pampering Croatia like a spoilt child instead of insisting on the mutual implementation of the arbitration ruling.

"The border has been determined by the arbitration tribunal and sooner or later it will be applied," Pahor said on his Twitter account, recalling that on this day in 2009 in Sweden, in his capacity as prime minister, he and the then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor signed an arbitration agreement and that the arbitration ruling was based on that agreement.

Pahor accused some European leaders of siding with Croatia. He said that Croatia was not honouring the arbitration ruling but was offering new bilateral talks claiming that Slovenia had irreparably compromised the arbitration process by trying to influence the arbitration judges.

"Some European leaders tell us that we are right and that the decision on the border should be respected, while at the same time suggesting that we come to that in such a way that Croatia can also save face. I tell them that the only right and fair thing to do is to treat Croatia like any other responsible country in a responsible relationship and that it is required to meet the assumed commitments, rather than treat it like a spoilt child that does only what suits it," Pahor said, as quoted by Slovenian media.

The news website Siol.net said on Wednesday that Pahor was currently holidaying in the Croatian part of Istria.

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

Friday, 26 July 2019

Agreement Reached with Slovenia on Truck Tansit at Border Crossings

ZAGREB, July 26, 2019 - The Ministry of the Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure on Thursday informed that an agreement had been reached with Slovenia's ministry regarding freight road traffic at border crossings with Slovenia which will apply as of August 1.

The ministry said in a press release that after Slovenia's ministry for infrastructure adopted a regulation on June 1 introducing restrictions on freight road traffic at certain border crossings with Slovenia, meetings were held with the Slovenian side to resolve the problem for hauliers.

Conclusions were reached at the ministerial and operational levels and they will enter into force as of August 1.

At the latest meeting held on Wednesday, it was decided to establish a joint task force that will work on further improving and advancing transport cooperation between Croatia and Slovenia. The task force will commence with its work at the end of August and one of the most important tasks will be to resolve transit corridors and other outstanding issues regarding border crossings and border cooperation.

One of the other topics discussed at the meeting was a recent decision by the Croatian government to launch proceedings for an agreement to be reached with the Slovenian government, which resulted from joint efforts by Croatia's Transport Minister Oleg Butković and Slovenia's Transport Minister Alenka Bratušek, on the construction of a bridge at the Kaštel-Dragona border crossing in Istria.

The total value of the bridge according to Croatian Roads's estimates would be 5 million kuna, with Croatia securing half the funds and Slovenia would provide the other half.

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

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Croatian, Slovenian Hauliers Demand Transit Across All Border Crossings

ZAGREB, July 17, 2019 - Slovenian and Croatian hauliers should be able to use every border crossing, officials of the two countries' chambers of trades and crafts have concluded at a meeting, the Croatian chamber said on Wednesday.

They met in Ljubljana to discuss the issue of traffic flow across border crossings, concluding that the closure of some crossings has caused damage to both countries' hauliers and that it is also a political issue because of which both economies suffer.

The president of the Croatian chamber, Dragutin Ranogajec, and his Slovenian counterpart Branko Meh were agreed that this problem demanded an urgent solution by the two governments.

The interests of Slovenian and Croatian hauliers are the same, so transport and supply between the two economies must be undisturbed, the officials concluded.

On June 1, the Slovenian Infrastructure Ministry introduced on 17 local border crossings with Croatia a restriction barring the transit of trucks exceeding 7.5 tonnes in weight. Consequently, Croatian hauliers must use international crossings, which has resulted in higher expenses and longer transport.

Slovenia says the restriction is aimed at increasing the safety and quality of life of the local population, so it shifted cargo transport from state roads to motorways. Croatian hauliers, however, believe the restriction is a response to Croatia's closure of the Mursko Središće border crossing for the transit of trucks exceeding 7.5 tonnes.

Croatian and Slovenian transport ministers met in June to discuss the restriction.

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

Monday, 24 June 2019

Slovenian President: Border Arbitration Ruling Will Be Implemented

ZAGREB, June 24, 2019 - Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on Sunday that Slovenia wanted to have good relations with all its neighbours, including Croatia with which it is in dispute over the validity of the border arbitration process.

"The border has been defined. We need some patience and statesmanlike wisdom so that we wouldn't make any mistakes because the arbitration ruling will be implemented sooner or later," Pahor said.

He was speaking in an interview with Slovenian television ahead of Statehood Day, observed on June 25, focusing mostly on internal and European affairs.

Pahor said that he considered Croatia's decision to leave the arbitration process in 2015 unacceptable, but that soon afterwards he decided to continue contacts and cooperation with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, which has proved good.

Pahor said he would soon meet with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec to discuss the problem of the increasing number of illegal border crossings by migrants. He said that border security should be stepped up for the sake of people living in the border areas.

He said that the common migration policy, along with Brexit, should be among the priorities of the next European Commission in its first year in office.

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

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

CJEU Schedules Hearing on Slovenia's Border Arbitration Suit against Croatia

ZAGREB, June 12, 2019 - The Court of Justice of the European Union has scheduled for July 8 a hearing on Slovenia's border arbitration suit against Croatia, Slovenian media reported on Wednesday, citing information on the Court's website.

The hearing will be held before the Grand Chamber. The suit was brought last year by the then Miro Cerar Cabinet. Cerar is now Slovenia's foreign minister.

In the suit, Slovenia demands the Court find that Croatia, by failing to implement the border arbitration award, is violating the EU's fisheries policy, Schengen rules on the movement of people across the border and the directive on a framework for maritime spatial planning.

Croatia announced in 2015 that it was walking out of the border arbitration proceedings after the release of recordings of covert contacts between Simona Drenik, then a representative of Slovenia's Foreign Ministry, and Jernej Sekolec, Slovenia's member of the arbitral tribunal.

Croatia's decision was unanimously upheld by parliament. Since then, Croatian governments have maintained that the arbitration was irreversibly compromised and that the award eventually adopted by the arbiters has no legal effect or consequence.

Slovenia has refused Croatia's proposal to resume talks on the bilateral issue on new grounds to find a mutually acceptable solution, claiming that talks are possible only on the implementation of the arbitration award and that Croatia, by rejecting the award, is breaking European and international law.

More news about the border arbitration issue can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Croatia and Slovenia at Odds over Border Crossings for Trucks

ZAGREB, June 10, 2019 - Transport Minister Oleg Butković said on Monday that in order to resolve the problem of Slovenia's cargo transport restriction on 17 smaller border crossings with Croatia, it was proposed to open those crossings only for Croatian and Slovenian hauliers.

He said the proposal was made last week at a meeting with Slovenian Transport Minister Alenka Bratušek. "Croatia isn't against that decision because it's good for safety on state roads in both countries," he told reporters.

Representatives of the two countries' transport ministries will meet on Thursday "to try to formalise everything," he said. "I believe the Slovenian side will agree to that because I think it's good for us and them."

Butković went on to say that he and Bratušek also talked about the renovation of bridges on the border crossings.

On June 1, the Slovenian Transport Ministry introduced on 17 border crossings with Croatia a restriction on cargo vehicles weighing over 7.5 tons, with the explanation that it wanted to improve the safety and quality of life of the local population and was therefore shifting cargo transport from state roads to motorways.

Croatian hauliers believe the restriction is Slovenia's response to the closure of the Mursko Središće border crossing for trucks weighing over 7.5 tons.

The president of the Association of Croatian Road Carriers, Dragutin Kranjčec, said last week they would wait for an answer regarding a solution to the problems caused by the Slovenian restriction and that if none was provided this week, they would take other actions if necessary.

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

Thursday, 11 April 2019

European Commission: No Comment on Alleged Croatia-Slovenia Spying Affair

ZAGREB, April 11, 2019 - The European Commission on Wednesday declined to comment on Slovenian media reports saying that the Croatian Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) had wiretapped conversations between Slovenian officials.

EC spokesman Margaritis Schinas told Slovenian reporters that the EC had seen the media reports but did not wish to comment as the matter was a bilateral one and the EC was not familiar with it and had no details about it.

National intelligence services and related questions fall within national jurisdiction and it is up to member-states to control their services, Schinas said, adding that the EC did not have intelligence services or spies and was not concerned with intelligence matters.

Asked about the alleged attempt by the Croatian government to prevent media reporting about the case, Schinas said the EC supported media freedoms and pluralism within the scope of its jurisdiction. The responsibility to protect media freedoms and pluralism in line with European values rests primarily with member-states, he said.

Asked if EC President Jean-Claude Juncker would discuss the matter with the prime ministers of the two countries, Schinas said that he did not believe the matter would be discussed.

The Croatian government and SOA have dismissed allegations of involvement in attempts to influence Slovenian media or in the wiretapping of conversations between Slovenian officials.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković confirmed on Thursday morning that he had briefly met with his Slovenian counterpart Marjan Šarec on the margins of an EU summit in Brussels, saying that he would like the two countries to resolve their problems at the negotiating table.

Asked if they discussed Slovenia's criticism of Croatia over the rule of law, Plenković said that there was nothing new about it. "This is a continuing rhetoric. I would like Croatia and Slovenia to sit down at the table and resolve their problems. We are looking forward to Prime Minister Šarec coming to Dubrovnik today for the China+16 summit when we will talk again."

Slovenia has accused Croatia and its intelligence service of wiretapping its officials and of an attempt to interfere with Slovenian media to get them not to report about it.

"There's no big drama about it and it's nothing new. The European elections are coming up and everyone needs a little topic to show that they are protecting their national interests," the Croatian Prime Minister said.

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

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