Press Release:

Ljubljana, 25 November 2016 - FM Stier: Unresolved issues with Slovenia should not hinder cooperation

(Hina) - Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec and his Croatian counterpart Davor Ivo Stier said at a news conference after talks in Ljubljana on Friday that they had made no progress on how to settle the border dispute.

Erjavec said that the border "has not yet been defined" and insisted that agreement should be reached through international arbitration.

In 2015, Croatia withdrew from the arbitration, criticising Slovenia for having compromised the process after its foreign ministry official Simona Drenik was found to have been in contact with Slovenia's arbiter Jernej Sekolec.

Responding to reporters' questions, Stier reiterated that the proceedings before the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague had been compromised and consequently brought to an end, and that Croatia was ready to seek a bilateral solution with Slovenia.

"The sooner we approach the issue that way (bilaterally), the better," the Croatian minister said.

As for Croatia's protest note due to a razor-wire fence along the border by the Čabranka River and Slovenia's failure to respond to the note, Stier said the issue remained open but he hoped that that the issue would be soon settled.

He went on to say that the border dispute was of a bilateral nature and that unresolved border issues existed between many European countries and did not hinder cooperation, so he hoped that this would also be the case of Croatia and Slovenia.

Erjavec said that the border was not defined yet and added that he was surprised by the attitude of his Croatian counterpart that the fence put up by Slovenia along the Čabranka River encroached upon Croatia's territory.

The two ministers, however, agreed that bilateral economic cooperation was progressing well. According to figures presented by the Slovenian side, the bilateral exchange of goods rises annually by 14%, in parallel to an increase in volume of investments.

The two ministers also discussed ministerial cooperation within the Brijuni-Brdo process and assistance to southeastern European aspirants to European Union membership.

Erjavec and Stier agree that when it comes to the relationship between Turkey and the EU, it is necessary to maintain the constructive approach.

It is not in the interest of the EU, Slovenia and Croatia to suspend negotiations with Turkey, the Croatian minister said. "We need a well-balanced approach," he added.

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