Press Release:

Ljubljana, 25 November 2016 - FM Stier: Arbitration agreement thing of the past

(Hina) – Certain issues between Croatia and Slovenia, including the border dispute, remain outstanding due to diverging positions, but cooperation and communication between two EU and NATO member states continues, as does communication on migrant crisis, stronger economic cooperation and investments, the talks between Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier and his Slovenian counterpart Karl Erjavec demonstrated on Friday in Ljubljana.

“Slovenia is our third largest trading partner and we cooperate very well in strategic challenges,” Stier said after the talks, underlining the importance of the two countries going forward in their relations, unhindered by outstanding issues which, according to Stier, the border certainly is, as other EU member states have similar bilateral issues.

The two ministers agreed to set up several commissions, including a commission for local-border traffic and cooperation and commission for military cemeteries, and also discussed strengthening trilateral ties with Austria on the level of foreign ministers.

Stier and Erjavec agreed that in light of a potential new migrant crisis, the EU should take a constructive stand towards Turkey and that Croatia and Slovenia with their know-how could assist the Balkan countries along their EU path and in utilizing pre-accession funds, as well as strengthen cooperation in preventing illegal migration.

The two ministers confirmed that Croatia and Slovenia’s views on border dispute were still far apart and that they haven’t been able to resolve them even today.

According to Stier, the arbitration agreement undoubtedly is a thing of the past and should not be returned to, but launch bilateral talks as soon as possible.

That Slovenia is no longer counting on arbitration either is evident in the fact, Stier said, that it has erected barbed-wire fence along that places that even according to Slovenia’s geodetic charts and data belong to Croatia, which he informed Erjavec about.

The arbitration agreement, which is not worth coming back to, strictly prohibited such one-sided behaviour, Stier recalled.

In regard to obstacles erected by Slovenia along the Čabranka River, Stier stressed that they were erected on Croatia’s territory and that it was understandable Croatia could not tolerate such acts.

Slovenia has not responded to the protest note. Erjavec and I talked about it, but our views differ and we haven’t been able to settle it today, but we will, Stier said after the meeting with his Slovenian counterpart.

“We came to Ljubljana to discuss in on the ministerial level and the issue no longer involves just my ministry, but there will be a solution,” Stier said.

The Slovenian side stated that the arbitration which Croatia had given up on was still a “binding international agreement” which Croatia should stick to.

The unresolved border dispute stunts relations and cooperation, and hinders utilizing some of EU’s infrastructure funds, Erjavec pointed out.

Stier said that despite the outstanding issues, cooperation and communication should go on so that those funds would not go to waste.

According to Stier, Erjavec promised that at its next meeting the commission for local-border traffic and cooperation would discuss finding a solution for the population along the Čabranka River who, due to the wire Slovenia claims is only temporary, have lost two local-border crossings and cannot reach their lands.

The head of Croatian diplomacy also held talks with Slovenian President Borut Pahor, delivered a lecture at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts on “Croatia’s Challenges and Perspectives” and met with members of the Croatian community in Slovenia. 

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