STA, January 29, 2018 - Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec labelled as absurd and legally baseless the plan of the Croatian authorities to fine Slovenian fishermen for alleged border violations in the Bay of Piran as a countermeasure to the Slovenian police starting issuing fines to Croatian fishermen.
Erjavec was responding on Monday to a diplomatic note in which Croatia announced last week it will start issuing fines to Slovenian fishermen. He said the move had been addressed "more to the Croatian public" than to Slovenian.
There are no legal grounds for fines, the matter is absurd, the foreign minister said, saying that it was "absurd that they are sending to us diplomatic notes about fishing in the Slovenian sea. We know that the border is not in the middle of the Bay of Piran, it was never determined there."
On Friday, the Slovenian police sent out the first 14 fines to Croatian fishermen who had illegally crossed the sea border between the two countries after Slovenia had started implementing the border arbitration decision on 30 December. The police is expected to send out further notices this week.
According to Erjavec, Croatia wants to enforce its will to implement jurisdiction in the Slovenian sea, while the border has been clearly defined by the arbitration decision.
Erjavec said there was "no reason to worry", because Croatia had "no legal grounds whatsoever" to issue fines to Slovenian fishermen fishing in the Slovenian sea as determined on the basis of the arbitration decision.
The minister noted that the Agriculture Ministry had drafted certain measures, such as providing legal aid to fishermen in case of complications, and possible compensations. Paying fines issued by Croatia is "out of the question".
Asked by the press what if possible fines issued by Croatia were followed by lengthy legal proceedings, and what if Slovenian fishermen get harassed by Croatian police officers when crossing the border, Erjavec said that "this will not happen".
"There will be no harassing of our fishermen and our citizens. The state will do everything to protect not only Slovenian fishermen, but all citizens," he added.
Erjavec added that "nothing is happening" between Slovenia and Croatia at the level of foreign ministries. He has not contacted his counterpart Marija Pejčinović Burić since her statement in early January that the border had been set on 25 June 1991.
This means that she "has no credibility whatsoever", and it is hard to talk with such a minister, he told the press.