Slovenian, Croatian presidents urge resolution of open issues
Speaking to the press after their meeting in Otočec in south Slovenia, Pahor and Milanović said they touched on all open issues, including the border and Croatia's entry into the Schengen passport-free zone, agreeing they will not be resolved overnight.
Pahor stressed that it was in Slovenia's interest that Croatia join Schengen, but he indicated that Croatia's refusal to accept the border arbitration award could affect Slovenia's position when it is time to vote on whether to allow Croatia to join.
Noting that this would "weigh on the decision", Pahor said a mutual agreement on how the arbitration award should be implemented would make it easier for Slovenia to vote in favour of Croatia's Schengen membership.
Milanović noted that Slovenia would reap the greatest benefits from Croatia's membership since the external border of the EU would be shifted to Croatia's border with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Turning to the border dispute, Milanović said the two countries would have to sit down and discuss the issue.
"Procedurally we're nowhere again, which is why we have to sit down and see how to proceed," he said in reference to a recent decision by the EU Court not to hear Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia over arbitration.
He said the two countries "should not run away from problems" but noted that the border was not an issue that was causing headaches since "life goes on".
Pahor added that open issues would not be left by the wayside without efforts being made to resolve them. "If a long time passes until a solution on the manner of implementation [of the arbitration tribunal's award], this will increasingly weigh on other relations."
While previous Slovenian governments have insisted that there is no alternative to the implementation of the border arbitration award, the leader of the coming centre-right government, Janez Janša, has long advocated for a return to negotiations.
Milanović said he expected dialogue and solutions from the coming government.
The presidents also agreed to continue pursuing the Brdo-Brijuni initiative, which the countries co-chair, although Milanović said there should be a "small inventory-taking" of regional initiatives, in particular those than do not have a financial framework.