The Slovenia Times

Tusk Wants Slovenia, Croatia to Resolve Border Issue


Tusk made a statement after a meeting with Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar in Bled on Monday, the pair having discussed the issue as part of informal talks yesterday.

He said he "fully understands" this is a sensitive issue, but hopes both countries can "build on their experience and reach a good solution."

Tusk said he would also raise this issue in talks with Croatian officials as part of a visit to Zagreb on Tuesday.

According to EU official, it is important that Slovenia and Croatia "remain a good example of cooperation in the region, not a bad one," which is important for the whole Europe.

"I'm absolutely sure it is possible, who else if not you can show that good will and common sense can prevail in this region."

Cerar said he briefed Tusk on Slovenia's position that the arbitration tribunal has to complete the procedure with a ruling that is binding on both countries.

While the EU Council as an institution is not involved in the process, Cerar said he found it "important that I present our position," while Croatian officials will present their tomorrow.

For Slovenia it is "very important that other European countries, as well as the European Commission, support that such resolved with legal means," he said.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović meanwhile indicated only hours later that her country was firmly on the position that the arbitration procedure was "compromised beyond repair".

"No solution can be credible because of everything that has happened in that procedure," she said in a reference to the spying scandal that led to the publication of alleged recordings of conversations between the Slovenian arbiter and the country's agent in Croatian media.

Speaking ahead of the Bled Strategic Forum, she said Slovenia and Croatia "have agreed to disagree", but Croatia will not make a problem out of this and wants to show to everybody that the countries remain friendly neighbours.

Grabar-Kitarović reiterated that the border dispute was a bilateral issue and that regardless of the position of the European Commission, it was on Slovenia and Croatia to resolve the issue.

The procedure was also on the agenda of Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec's bilateral meetings ahead of the start of the Bled Strategic Forum, including with UK Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Anelay of St. John's.

"I'm happy that the Baroness also thinks that this is the only suitable instrument unless an agreement can be reached on the border, such as that which was struck last week between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro."

Responding to the statement by Tusk expressing hope that the procedure is not dead, Erjavec said that the support from the European Commission for the continuation of arbitration is "very tangible".

For Erjavec the important thing is for the tribunal to appoint the two replacement arbiters as soon as possible so that arbitration moves towards a conclusion.


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