Janša: It was Croatia and Italy’s “good will” to invite us to talks

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša said during questions time in parliament on Monday that it had been Italy and Croatia’s “good will” to invite Slovenia for talks on their plans to declare their exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic Sea. This invitation came “precisely because of our reputation”, the prime minister told the MPs.

Janša thus responded to a question by opposition Left leader Luka Mesec, who argued that the government was handling the epidemic poorly and had also “messed up” Slovenia’s foreign policy.

“The Croatians and Italians are playing us, so that we will obviously lose access to open seas,” Mesec said in reference to Italy and Croatia’s plans to declare exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic Sea.

The prime minister pointed out in his response that the two countries had the right to declare the zones and that it was solely because of “our reputation” and their good will that they had invited Slovenia for talks on the matter.

He noted that in 2005, during the term of Janša’s first government (2004-2008), Slovenia had declared its own ecological protection zone in response to Croatia’s unilateral declaration of a protective ecological and fisheries zone.

Holding up a map, Janša said that the Slovenian zone was to stretch into open seas all the way to the latitude of Croatia’s coastal town of Rovinj.

“Then the masters of arbitration came. And this arbitration award, which says that Slovenia does not have the right to declare an economic or any kind of zone in international waters. Which says that we have a junction but not a territorial contact with high seas,” he said.

Janša also criticised Mesec for saying Slovenia would now lose a “territorial contact with international waters”. “I’ve heard many stupid things but this is one of the stupidest this year,” Janša said.

He indicated that the situation was such because previous governments had started unilaterally implementing the June 2017 arbitration award and foremost annulled the act declaring Slovenia’s ecological protection zone and continental shelf. “Who revoked this act? Who changed the maritime code based on the arbitration award?”

Janša said he wondered whether Slovenia would be included in any talks now if it still had the previous government.

The prime minister discussed Croatia and Italy’s plans with his counterparts, Andrej Plenković and Giuseppe Conte, last weekend.

After the talks, he announced a meeting of the foreign ministers of all three countries would be held in Venice.

Plenković, on the other hand, said that the Croatian government would take a decision on the exclusive economic zone on Monday, meaning today. After that parliament will confirm the decision. The zone is to be declared by the end of the year.

Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries have the right to declare an exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline.

This means the country has exclusive rights in this zone regarding the exploitation of marine resources, especially energy production and fishing.