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Agreement on the Slovenia-Croatia border issue by the end of the year

Tue 4 Aug 2009 Agreement on the Slovenia-Croatia border issue by the end of the year

There seems to be important breakthrough concerning the long-standing border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia, which is blocking Croatia’s EU integration process. After a meeting on 31 of July in the Trakošćan castle in Croatia between the newly appointed Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and her Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor both delivered a positive message: an agreement on the border dispute will be reached in autumn and implemented by the end of 2009.

Against all expectations the leaders of both countries found a frame for the solution of the dispute: “We have found the road to take…I am very satisfied we started to agree on issues in the interest of both countries,” Kosor said. Pahor argued that there is a big chance that already this year a solution will be found for the problem of both countries, that is EU access for Croatia and a solution for the border dispute. The agreement will be found on the basis of good neighbouring relations according to both leaders.

One of the solutions could be a condominium ― an area in which sovereignty is shared and may involve the establishment of joint governance structures ― over the Savudrija Cove, also known as Piran Bay. The establishment of a condominium would allow the Slovenes greater access to the Adriatic and fisheries without the transfer of disputed Croatian territorial waters to Slovenian suzerainty.

This is the first meeting between the leaders of Slovenia and Croatia after the unsuccessful mediation of the European Commission in the dispute which in the end resulted in a delay in Croatia’s EU membership negotiations. Brussels has not yet reacted to the promising meeting between the two leaders although a signal has been send that after a time-out it is time for both countries to continue the negotiations on the issue in order to continue the EU integration process of Croatia and other countries in the region. It is unknown if this breakthrough has anything to do with the recent appointment of Kosor as the PM and the, still, rather mysterious resignation of former Croatian PM Ivo Sanader.

Slovenia and Croatia have been unable to agree on their common land and sea border since they both seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991. In April 2009, the EU proposed to create a tribunal to arbitrate in the dispute, but there has been no progress since. Moreover, Slovenia has viewed EU mediation as a way to resolve the row, but Croatia considers it simply a stepping stone to a resolution before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In the end the EU has stopped the mediation and left the countries to find a solution themselves. Meanwhile, Croatia has felt behind on their road towards becoming EU member state.

Source: Vecernji, Radio Slobodna Evropa, BIRN and Hrvatska Radio Televizija

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