Saturday, 19 October 2019

Slovenian MEPs against Croatia's Accession to Schengen Area

ZAGREB, October 19, 2019 - Slovenian members of the European Parliament have sent an open letter to current and new EU leaders opposing Croatia's accession to the Schengen area of passport-free travel, the Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The daily says the letter is the newest means of pressure ahead of the European Commission's decision on Croatia's compliance with all technical conditions for accession to the Schengen Area, which is expected on October 22.

Slovenian MEPs express reservations about Croatia's technical and legal capacity to protect the Schengen Area which is why they seek a delay of the decision and ask that the issue be dealt with by the new European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen.

The letter was signed by six Slovenian MEPs, two each from the European People's Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats and the Renew Europe group. Two representatives of Janez Janša's SDS party, also a member of the EPP, refused to sign the letter.

Croatia's accession to the Schengen area is a common interest because we are aware of all its benefits, both for Slovenia and the EU, and at the same time its accession should not be a security threat to the EU, the Slovenian MEPs say in their letter but then describe what they consider problematic about it.

"In our opinion, there are very serious reservations regarding Croatia's technical and legal capacity to protect the Schengen Area as well as its compliance with EU legal standards, notably regarding respect for and implementation of international agreements and judgements," the Slovenian MEPs say in an indirect reference to the two countries' border dispute and failed international arbitration on it which Croatia refuses to comply with, says Večernji List.

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

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Plenković, Slovenian Croats Discuss Their Undefined Status

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and representatives of Slovenia's ethnic Croat community agreed on Wednesday that it was necessary to continue to work on having Ljubljana recognise the status of Slovenian Croats as an ethnic minority, the Croatian government reported.

Plenković received in Zagreb for talks representatives of the Croat communities from Slovenia and Montenegro, which has defined the status of its Croat community.

"While Croats in Montenegro have the status of an ethnic minority, the status of ethnic Croats in Slovenia is undefined. That is why the need was expressed to continue activities on defining their status," the government said after the meeting.

A commission in charge of the status of Slovenian Croats was formed in February 2018 with the aim of coordinating activities contributing to the preservation and promotion of Croatian identity, defining the status of ethnic Croats and recognising the Croat ethnic minority in Slovenia, the government added.

The PM said that a summit meeting of leaders of EU and Southeast European countries, to be held in Zagreb next year, would provide an opportunity to do something about the settlement of outstanding issues in relations with neighbouring countries.

He also said that he expected the continuation of activities that would enable the institutional, financial and project support for the preservation of Croatian identity in Montenegro.

The Montenegrin Croat delegation also held talks with Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković.

More diaspora news can be found in the dedicated section.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Slovenia Can't Block Croatia's Schengen Entry Indefinitely, Says Plenković

ZAGREB, September 27, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that if Slovenia decided to block Croatia's Schengen entry, it would not be able to do so indefinitely.

"They can't block indefinitely. We are a member state, we have enough mechanisms. That's all I'll say," he told Croatian reporters in Brussels who asked him if Slovenia could stop Croatia's Schengen Area accession for a long time.

Plenković is on a three-day visit to Brussels. Today he met European Commission Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis and Finnish PM Annti Rinne, whose country is the current Council of the EU chair.

Plenković said he was pleased with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's guarantee that next month Croatia would receive a positive assessment on the meeting of the Schengen entry criteria, to be followed by a political debate at the Council of the EU. All member states must approve the accession.

Plenković said it was not realistic to expect a decision to that effect during Croatia's EU presidency in the first half of 2020.

"We believe we have met the criteria. Now there will be a political debate, but not during our presidency. The Schengen entry criteria are objective, we have met them, and if there are some political issues, we will deal with them at the Council."

Plenković said he did not expect problems from the member states which now were against Bulgaria and Romania entering Schengen. Both have had a positive assessment of their compliance with the criteria since 2011.

Plenković said that he and Dombrovskis talked about the implementation of Croatia's euro action plan and preparations for joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II.

"The Commission is following in detail what we are doing, and we are doing it within the deadlines we have set, therefore the process if going well," he said, adding that a Commission delegation collecting data as part of the European Semester would visit Zagreb in October.

"I talked about those topics with Vice-President Dombrovskis and the Commission has a positive view of our reform efforts," Plenković said.

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

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Slovenia: Croatia's Accession to Schengen Area Conditional on Rule of Law

ZAGREB, September 26, 2019 - Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said during the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday that Slovenia was in favour of expansion of the Schengen area of passport-free travel but only if Croatia respected the rule of law, Slovenian media reported.

In a comment on Croatian media reports that the European Commission would next month confirm that Croatia had met technical conditions for accession to the Schengen area, which outgoing EC President Jean-Claude Juncker had allegedly promised Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Cerar told reporters in New York that Slovenia supported the expansion of the Schengen area in principle but that the rule of law "is one of the key standards that must be respected by countries that are about to join the Schengen area", Slovenian Television said.

Alluding to an arbitration ruling on the Croatian-Slovenian border dispute, which Croatia does not recognise because of Slovenia's having compromised the arbitration proceedings, Cerar said that respect for the rule of law also means "respect for and implementation of international agreements and decisions of international courts," the Slovenian media quoted sources at the Slovenian Foreign Ministry as saying.

The Slovenian commercial POP TV station claimed that the Croatian government had expected the outgoing European Commission, led by Juncker, to have the issue of compliance with technical conditions for accession to the Schengen area on its agenda already on October 2, but that this was opposed by the Slovenian member of the outgoing Commission, Violeta Bulc, and reportedly also by EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

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

Monday, 9 September 2019

Croatian Small Businesses to Participate in Celje Trade Fair

ZAGREB, September 9, 2019 - Twenty-two Croatian small businesses will participate in the 52nd International Trade Fair in Celje, Slovenia next week, representatives of the Trade Fair, Slovenia's Chamber of Craft and Small Business and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) have announced.

"Croatian small businesses will participate in the fair for the 24th time. We cover 50% of the costs of our exhibitors. Sixteen of the exhibitors are HOK members while the other six are participating directly," said HOK president Dalibor Kratohvil.

The Celje Trade Fair, the largest in the region, will be held on September 10-15 with more than 800 direct and 1,500 mediated exhibitors, and is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors.

The fair's executive director, Robert Otorepec, said that the fair is divided into 5 mini-fairs: Home, Tourism, Technology, B2B and Fair PLUS.

This year's country partner is Montenegro.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

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.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Croatia and Slovenia Advocate Further EU Enlargement

ZAGREB, September 3, 2019 - Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman on Tuesday said in Bled, Slovenia that Croatia and Slovenia advocate the EU's further enlargement to the Western Balkans and underscored that he hopes for a positive response from the European Commission on Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area.

Grlić Radman was attending the Beld Strategic Forum and said that Croatia and Slovenia support EU enlargement to countries in the Western Balkans.

"We want peace and stability in that part of Europe and those countries have the right to a European future," Grlić Radman said.

Answering a question about the possibility of Slovenia blocking Croatia from joining the Schengen Area, Grlić Radman said that he hoped for a positive response from the European Commission and that he would work so that Ljubljana does not block Zagreb.

"We are in the European family and we will certainly all show solidarity," Grlić Radman said and added that he would endeavour to obtain the "green light from Slovenia."

He commented on a recent informal meeting with his Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar after which he told the N1 television station that in 2017 Cerar "almost accepted" an initiative proposed by Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on a protocol which would lead to a bilateral agreement on the border dispute, which Cerar later denied.

"We met on Krk island but we did not talk about anything else except about future cooperation," Grlić Radman said briefly.

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

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Pahor Confirms Arrival at Croatia-Slovenia-Austria Meeting in Šibenik

ZAGREB, August 29, 2019 - Slovenia's President Borut Pahor on Wednesday confirmed that he would attend the 6th edition of regular Trilateral Meetings of the presidents of Croatia, Slovenia and Austria that will be held in Šibenik next Wednesday, Slovenia's media have reported.

These regular trilateral meetings are aimed at strengthening relations and cooperation in a narrower regional format and the current theme of the meeting in Šibenik will be the future of the European Union particularly in light of the recent European election and other European and international topics, Pahor's office said in a press release.

Presidents Pahor, Alexander Van der Bellen and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will put a special emphasis to the strengthening of friendly relations between neighbouring countries and Southeast Europe. In that regard they will discuss the continuation of European prospects for countries in the Western Balkans and about migrations, says the press release issued in Ljubljana.

More news about relations 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.

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