The Slovenia Times

PM: Slovenia unified in respecting border arbitration ruling


Cerar told the press after yesterday's meeting featuring parliamentary Speaker Milan Brglez, National Council President Mitja Bervar, President Borut Pahor and the leaders of all parliamentary parties that the "constructive discussion has assessed that Slovenia must be determined in the implementation process, but also prudent".

"Each step has to be thoroughly thought through and taken with prudence, and dialogue with Croatia needs to be constantly maintained in the spirit of neighbourly relations," the prime minister added.

Cerar explained that he had wanted to get confirmation of political unity regarding the respect of the arbitration ruling and its implementation. Such meetings will also be held in the future when new facts and circumstances occur, he added.

The prime minister reminded the participants that he will meet his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković on 12 July. "I will present to him our first and next moves regarding the arbitration decision, and then I will lend an ear to him."

He stressed though that Slovenia should not have great expectations of the meeting, as Croatia insisted that it would not implement the ruling.

Indeed, Plenković said today as he commented on the European Commission's call to Slovenia and Croatia to implement the decision that it would be good if the Commission "stayed within its jurisdiction, which does not include the border issue between Croatia and Slovenia".

President Pahor agreed with Cerar that the implementation of the border arbitration tribunal needed to be reached in a peaceful way and through dialogue.

"We have a unique opportunity to close this chapter once and for all ... with a patient and prudent policy," he told the press.

Pahor reiterated that he was very satisfied with the arbitration ruling regarding the course of the border in the Bay of Piran, adding that no other path different from the arbitration agreement would be as favourable for Slovenia.

Cerar added that the discussion had also stressed the importance of the arbitration ruling for the wider region, especially for the Western Balkan countries.

"Such a decision is an example of best practice of how border and other disputes between countries can be resolved in a civilised and legal way," he said, adding that this was very important for the region that was still very restless.

Pahor too admitted that the implementation would be a big and demanding problem given the fact that Croatia officially does not recognise the ruling. But this problem is not unsolvable, he added.

The president is convinced that law is on Slovenia's side and that debates on who is satisfied with the ruling and who is not will soon die down, because "all of us will start focusing on the word how".

He also assessed that it was very important that the European Commission helped the countries in dialogue and that the international community would encourage Slovenia and Croatia to arrive at a solution based on international law.

The parliamentary parties are united in the opinion that the ruling must be respected and implemented, but there was no consensus on whether the arbitration was necessary at all and how to start implementing the ruling, Democrats (SDS) head Janez Janša meanwhile said.

"The decision is as legally binding for Slovenia as is for Croatia and it is impossible to implement it unilaterally," said the head of the largest opposition party, who doubts that the government will take advantage of its opportunities.

According to him, Slovenia can realistically expect an attempt at mediation, including "meetings of representatives of the European Commission, and Slovenia and Croatia, at which the two countries will be in an equal position".

The head of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) deputy group Matjaž Han assessed the discussion as constructive, noting that it featured the current and three former prime ministers, "who all know how difficult it is to talk and negotiate with the neighbours".

He hopes that political parties will not be trying to score political points with this topic, which "we unfortunately have failed to resolve in 26 years". "If we sort it out in our heads, I believe in a good result."

Coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) president and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said he was happy that there were no different opinions regarding the respect of the ruling.

Matej T. Vatovec of the opposition Left told the STA after the meeting that the state should insist on respecting the border arbitration ruling, while making sure that its work did not stop in other priority areas.

Among these, he singled out labour and employment and eradication of poverty. But he also added that the state should be thinking about how to establish a dialogue with Croatia and solve issues in a friendly way.

Opposition New Slovenia (NSi) president Ljudmila Novak meanwhile said that she had proposed at the meeting that the European Commission participate in the implementation of the arbitration decision from the very beginning.

Noting that the Commission had offered its help, Novak said this would be wise given the number of agreements with Croatia from the past which had failed to be honoured.


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