Slovenia looks to Brussels for support in border demarcation with Croatia

ANTONIO BAT

A view of Slovenian small town Piran from the middle of the Piran Bay, a disputed border area between Slovenia and Croatia, 13 June 2010. Ljubljana and Zagreb have been in disaccord for 19 years, since the breakup of Yugoslavia over 13 square kilometres (five square miles) of largely uninhabited land and a wedge of territorial water in and around Piran Bay. In November 2009 Slovenia (a member of the EU since 2004) lifted its embargo on EU membership talks for Croatia after the two countries signed a deal allowing international mediators to resolve the Piran Bay border dispute. Slovenes narrowly approved the deal in a referendum on 06 June 2010. Slovenian voters' endorsement of a plan to resolve a border issue with Croatia is ''an important step forward'' for the conflict-ridden Balkan region, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said 07 June 2010. The EU's executive president said he looked forward ''to a final settlement of the dispute,'' stressing this would represent ''an important signal for the region and the relations between Slovenia and Croatia.''

Slovenia looks to Brussels for support in border demarcation with Croatia


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Slovenia and Croatia failed to reach an agreement for the demarcation of Piran Bay on Wednesday.

The failure is of critical significance to Slovenia’s trade, as the smallest of the Alpine nations has only 46km of coastline and no direct access to international waters in the Adriatic Sea.

The Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, and Croatia’s, Andrej Plenkovic, are entangled in the latest round of bilateral negotiations of a dispute that endures since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Successive administrations have failed in bilaterally framed negotiations, including Janez Jansa and Ivo Sanader in 2004. In 2009 Slovenia dropped its veto on Croatian accession to the EU on condition that Zagreb accepts international arbitration for the border demarcation. Zagreb walked out of the arbitration process in 2015, alleging the collusion of a Slovene judge with Ljubljana.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Plenkovic denounced the arbitration process as “contaminated and corrupted.”

The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in June that Slovenia must have “uninterrupted access” to the international waters. The ruling is final and binding and the two countries have six months to comply. However, the Croatian government says that it will not honour the Arbitration Court ruling.

Following the failure of bilateral talks, Prime Minister Plenkovic is now turning to the European Commission for support, as the resolution of the border dispute was included in the conditions of Croatia’s accession to the EU.

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