Karel Erjavec: “The Croatian Foreign Minister is Misleading the Croatian Public”

By , 03 Jan 2018, 18:42 PM News
Marija Pejčinović Burić and Karel Erjavec Marija Pejčinović Burić and Karel Erjavec Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-2.0

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Marija Pejčinović Burić: “The border between the countries was established in 1991.”  

January 3, 2018

The Slovenian foreign minister Karel Erjavec responded Wednesday to the statements given by the Croatian foreign minister, Marija Pejčinović Burić, in an interview discussing the predicament Croatian fishermen face in the disputed waters of Bay of Piran since Slovenia’s unilateral implementation of the arbitration ruling.

In a rather contradictory sequence of statements, Pejčinović Burić emphasized that “border disputes are not something that could be unilaterally solved” and that “both sides should sit at the table and look for solutions which are not only good for the both countries, but also for the people living on the both sides of the border.” On a question about the countermeasures Croatia announced in its protection of the fishermen who are now threatened with fines if dropping nets in the disputed territories, the minister then responded that “Croatian territory is same as it has been since 1991, meaning that the border line is the line, which has been established in the year of 1991,” adding that “it is not possible for the Slovenian side to implement any laws on the territory of Croatia.”

The Slovenian foreign minister Karel Erjavec responded by saying that Croatian foreign minister is “misleading Croatian public and speaking an untruth when she claims that the border between Croatia and Slovenia has been established in 1991.”  Erjavec further explained that “it is precisely because the border has never been established that the solution was sought first with the Drnovšek-Račan agreement, and later with the arbitration ruling.” Furthermore, Erjavec pointed to a letter, written in 1994 by then Croatian PM Nikica Valentić to the then Slovenian PM Janez Drnovšek, in which he states that the Sečovlje border crossing is a temporary one and that Croatian side would move it when the border line is finally established.

A six-month period in which the countries were to make the changes necessary to implement the decision of the European arbitration court expired on December 29, 2017, and since Croatia decided to leave the arbitration agreement in 2015 due to procedural violations, Slovenia is now implementing the ruling unilaterally.

In the Bay of Piran, this involves implementation of The Common Fisheries Policy of the EU, which includes exercise of the historic rights, according to which both countries would mutually grant fishing allowances to up to 25 boats from the other side, while those caught fishing without a permit would face a fine for illegal fishing that ranges between 420 and 41,000 EUR, depending on their business status and the gravity of the legal violation.

The Slovenian government has also committed to covering any legal expenses Slovenian fishermen might face before the Croatian authorities in the context of implementing the arbitration ruling. 

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