Slovenian, Croatian and Italian FMs discuss Ukraine, Bay of Piran

Zagreb – Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar, Croatia’s Gordan Grlić Radman and Italy’s Luigi Di Maio met in Croatia on Monday as part of the trilateral cooperation effort for the north Adriatic Sea. They also discussed Ukraine and Logar and Grlić Radman talked about an “agreement about an agreement” on joint fishing in the border Bay of Piran.

The two ministers noted the recent talks between the Croatian and Slovenian prime ministers, Andrej Plenković and Janez Janša, on this topic and the possible temporary area for joint fishing by Slovenian and Croatian fishers.

“I cannot confirm that a joint fishing area has been agreed on, but I can confirm an agreement on an agreement,” said Grlić Radman.

Noting that the cooperation with the Slovenian government had never been better in the last 30 years, he said that “we are trying to find a model that will include both Slovenian and Croatian fishers and I think we are on the right track.”

Logar added that the “prime ministers made it very clear last week that we are moving from a period when the border issue was a matter of division and disputes to a period when we are all aware of the need for solutions.”

According to him, these solutions will gradually lead to the implementation of the decision of the arbitral tribunal on the border between Slovenia and Croatia.

Logar noted that “temporary agreement on fishing” was not the right term at this phase, while adding that he and Grlić Radman had agreed issuing fines to fishermen was not the right policy.

“Solutions need to be found that will enable people on both sides of the border to live and work normally, including fishermen,” he said.

“I can assure you that none of the solutions that would be adopted would prejudge or had any affect on the decision of the arbitral tribunal,” Logar said, adding that there was enough mutual trust to find appropriate solutions in the next term.

At the meeting in Zaprešić, the ministers also assessed the ongoing cooperation and discussed specific proposals for further cooperation in the northern Adriatic, which was put into words in a joint statement.

The statement strongly condemns Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and expresses solidarity and support for Ukraine and its people. The ministers noted it was important to prevent the war in Ukraine spilling over into the region and said efforts to maintain the region’s stability should be stepped up.

Logar and Di Maio agreed that a new, fifth package of sanctions against Russia should be adopted as soon as possible.

The three ministers furthermore reaffirmed their commitment to trilateral cooperation to make the northern Adriatic an area of growth and development, with enhanced cooperation dealing with connectivity, environmental protection and blue economy.

When it comes to connectivity, they called on the competent ports and infrastructure managers as part of the North Adriatic Ports Association to strengthen cooperation in freight transport and to improve infrastructure connectivity.

The ministers said they were aware of the limited road and rail connectivity between the ports of Trieste, Rijeka and Koper, and agreed to look for ways to improve this situation.

As for blue economy, possibility will be explored of developing partnerships between the industry and academia in internship programmes for the blue economy sector and specific activities to accordingly update university curricula and programmes.

Regarding environmental protection, the ministers said they were ready to continue to cooperate and periodically exchange information on the contribution to meeting the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

They also confirmed the country’s participation in joint activities to implement measures for marine conservation and prevention of the spread of invasive species, as well as to continue joint activities in monitoring migratory species.

“We have managed to establish concrete cooperation in the past year,” Grlić Radman told a news conference after the meeting, adding that the cooperation was becoming more important due to the current energy crisis, which demanded diversification.

He noted the recent talks between the Croatian and Slovenian prime ministers on the possibility of Croatia’s participation in the construction of a new Krško Nuclear Power Plant reactor and the expansion of the Lučko-Zabok-Rogatec gas pipeline.

Logar agreed that the role of the Adriatic Sea in the diversification of the natural gas sources should be strengthened.