Croatia defiant on border arbitration ruling with Slovenia

AP News
Posted: Jul 05, 2017 9:38 AM

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia on Wednesday rejected a European Commission call for the implementation of an international arbitration ruling in a longstanding border dispute with Slovenia that has caused tensions between the EU neighbors.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the commission has no jurisdiction in border matters and insisted that territorial issues should be resolved between the two states.

"It would be good if the European Commission remained within its jurisdiction," Plenkovic said, according to the state HINA news agency. "The (Commission) statement has no political or legal strength."

The Netherlands-based panel granted Slovenia unhindered access to the high seas in the Adriatic last week and ruled on several other disputed issues stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The two countries had agreed to arbitration in 2009, after which Slovenia dropped its opposition to Croatia's EU membership. Citing violations of the tribunal rules by Slovenia, Croatia walked out of the process in 2015 and does not recognize its findings.

The European Commission has said it has supported the arbitration process and called on both countries to implement the ruling.

In Slovenia, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said after a top-level meeting Wednesday that Slovenia considers the ruling final and will maintain dialogue with Croatia. Cerar and Plenkovic are set to meet next week following incidents along the sea border.

"Slovenia must be decisive and wise during the implementation (of the ruling)," said Cerar. "We have to maintain a dialogue with Croatia the whole time in the spirit of good neighborly relations."

The five-judge tribunal granted Slovenia much of the Bay of Piran, off the Adriatic coasts of the two countries, and gave Slovenia a corridor linking its territorial waters and international waters.