The Slovenia Times

Slovenian, Croatian PMs Meet for First Time after Arbitration Scandal


Meeting at the sidelines of a summit on the Western Balkans in Vienna, Cerar and Milanović failed to bring their positions closer together, the Slovenian prime minister told the press.

"We each explained our position and went our separate ways," Cerar said after the meeting.

He added that the arbitration procedure continued and that the countries needed to wait for the decision of the arbitration tribunal, which will be binding on both parties.

Cerar and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, who is also at the Vienna summit, discussed Slovenia's position on the arbitration with representatives of other countries as well.

"We underscored that the agreement is clearly still valid and that the tribunal continues with its work, and that we expect all countries to support the agreement being carried to completion and a decision being made," Cerar said.

"This legal solution has been agreed upon and I believe that there are many who share Slovenia's view that Croatia's decision is not the right nor acceptable way to proceed," he said.

Croatia has open border issues with virtually all of its neighbouring countries.

Erjavec discussed the arbitration process with several counterparts, telling the STA afterwards that "they all support the continuation of the arbitration tribunal's work and respect the arbitration agreement".

"I believe things are moving in the direction we want them to go," the foreign minister said.

Erjavec added that the officials he talked to could not understand why Slovenia had not raised the issue of legality of phone recordings that triggered the scandal. He explained that under the 2009 arbitration agreement the countries must refrain from causing additional tensions.

Today's events come after a Croatian paper published in late July recordings of illegal wire taps of alleged phone calls between Slovenia's arbitrator Jernej Sekolec and an official of the Foreign Ministry discussing the confidential procedure.

The pair resigned immediately and Slovenia insists that the process continue, while Croatia believes the phone calls and their contents constituted a material breach of the arbitration agreement and wants to end the process.


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