Croatia and Slovenia to cooperate closer on energy, migration
Slovenia and Croatia agreed to sign a solidarity agreement on gas supply and enhance cooperation in response to a surge in illegal migration as the countries' prime ministers met in Slovenia on 28 March. The countries are also in favour of building a second unit at the jointly owned nuclear power plant.
"All conditions are met and the wording finalised so that we can sign a solidarity agreement on energy, above all pipelines, between our countries at the earliest opportunity," Prime Minister Robert Golob told reporters after hosting his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković for a meeting at Brdo estate.
According to Plenković, the agreement could be signed during Golob's upcoming official visit to Zagreb.
The prime ministers also discussed the ongoing expansion of a liquefied gas terminal on the Croatian island of Krk and how Slovenia, as well as other countries could be involved in the project.
Croatia plans to increase the terminal's capabilities from 2.9 billion cubic metres of gas a year to 6.1 billion. Plenković said the ongoing project could become an EU-project if there was a multilateral initiative. This would require even greater capabilities and attract buyers.
The capabilities of gas pipelines of the terminal with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Slovenia, as well as beyond, with Austria and Bavaria, would also be improved. Golob said the needs of buyers from Slovenia, Austria and Germany must be determined, as well as required pipeline capabilities.
The prime ministers also talked about the possibility of building a new nuclear unit at the Krško Nuclear Power Station. Both governments support a new unit, said Golob. It will be important to see whether the EU classifies nuclear as clean energy, making it eligible for EU funds.
Joint control of migration flows
Moreover, Golob and Plenković talked about illegal migrations, discussing how Croatia, Slovenia and Italy could exercise joint control over migration routes.
"We do not propose border controls. This is in Croatia's purview," Golob said. Slovenia proposes setting up trilateral cooperation to cover migration routes from the external Schengen border to the destination country, Italy, which would allow better oversight of the situation.
Slovenian police intercepted more than 5,000 migrants who crossed into Slovenia illegally in January and February, a four-fold rise from the same period in 2022.
Being transit countries for migrants, Slovenia and Croatia share the same interests. "Therefore it is key that we act in a preventive manner in cooperation with the destination country and within the EU framework controlling the source and transit of migrants," said Golob. Talks are ongoing and Golob believes solutions could be reached soon.
Plenković said there are 6,700 police officers protecting the Schengen border. He said Croatia was willing to sign a police cooperation agreement and hopes this will happen during Golob's visit to Zagreb.
The pair also talked about the border arbitration, with Golob underlining that to Slovenia the arbitration award was a "fact from which we do not want to depart".
Meanwhile, Plenković repeated Croatia's position that the country does not recognise the arbitration award because the proceedings had been "contaminated".
The prime ministers also discussed economic cooperation, with Plenković underlining the importance of partnership, especially in tourism, as Slovenians were the second largest group of foreign visitors to Croatia last year.
Golob pointed to a cooperation agreement on a mechanism for reimbursement of fuel suppliers due to fuel prices regulation in the two countries.