Janša and Plenković talk gas, nuclear energy cooperation

Zagreb – Prime Minister Janez Janša and his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković talked about cooperation in gas supply and the Krško nuclear power plant as they met in Zagreb on Monday. Talks will be resumed by the ministers in charge next week.

Potential for concrete cooperation will be discussed by Slovenian Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec and Croatian Economy Minister Tomislav Čorić as they meet in Zagreb next Monday.

The ministers will talk about expanding the pipeline from Lučko, a Zagreb suburb, through Zabok, north of Zagreb, to Rogatec in Slovenia. They will also discuss further cooperation on the Krško N-plant, which is owned jointly by the two countries.

“We’re trying to find a common approach to supply, transport routes and the other necessary logistic. Gas, of course, is a small part of the energy we need for a normal life in Europe. Nuclear energy is also very important,” said Janša.

The two countries see plenty of potential to cooperate in both energy areas when it comes to satisfying the needs of Slovenia as well as Croatia, he added.

“A large part of Europe is fully or partly dependent on energy imports from Russia, and anything that represents an alternative to these imports and dependency is a European priority at the moment,” said Janša.

Slovenia would like to have enough capacities to be energy self-sufficient even in case of difficulties on the energy market. “As for our interest to lease capacities, the capacities that have been leased are leased, we’re interested in additional capacities,” said Janša when asked about lease of Croatian capacities.

Slovenia needs about a billion cubic metres of gas a year. The capacity of the gas pipeline from Lučko to Rogatec would be 270 million m3, which Janša said represented an important share of Slovenian gas supply.

While Slovenia is short of gas, Croatia is short of electricity. The Croatian government expressed readiness to take part in the construction of a second reactor in Krško following the model of cooperation so far.

Janša said the relevant government departments would look into potential for cooperation to jointly invest in the second reactor.

The prime ministers also talked about other bilateral issues, including the fishing regime in the Bay of Piran. Plenković said the two countries deepened their relationship in recent years and would also ease them on that point so that fishers would not be fined by Croatian or Slovenian police.

Since Slovenia started implementing the border arbitration award declared by the arbitration tribunal in June 2017 the following year Slovenian police have fined vessels entering waters awarded to Slovenia illegally, while Croatia has been fining Slovenian vessels fishing in the part of the bay it continues to claim as its own because it does not recognise the border award.

The two prime ministers also touched on the refugee crisis with Janša expressing Slovenia’s readiness to accept the number of Ukrainian refugees in proportion to its size and the size of its population.

“There’re no tensions, all the problems that exist, even if they have for several years, we’re solving quietly and to the satisfaction of both governments and nations,” said Plenković.

He thanked Slovenia for supporting Croatia in joining the EU, Schengen zone and the efforts to become a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“You have all the support for membership in the integrations that Slovenia is already a member of and Croatia is still a candidate country for,” said Janša.

The prime ministers also talked about cooperation in trade and tourism. The volume of bilateral trade has reached EUR 5.6 billion. Plenković noted that that 1,166,000 Slovenian tourists holidayed in Croatia last year.

This was the eighth time that Janša and Plenković have met in the past two years.