Ljubljana related

17 Apr 2019, 09:38 AM

April 17, 2019

Monday’s edition of Tednik, a news show from the national broadcaster, reported that Croatian women have been facing increasing difficulties in finding clinics that perform abortions at home, which brings them in growing numbers across the border to Slovenia.

According to Tednik, Brežice hospital, (the first Slovenian hospital on the way from Zagreb) has seen a 25% increase in Croatians seeking abortions in the last three months.

Although the procedure is legal in Croatia, almost 60% of Croatian gynaecologists, or 186 out of 322 ,refuse to perform abortions, according to Tednik. The problem is further acerbated by the fact that nurses and anaesthesiologists are also allowed to invoke the right to object on moral grounds, which, among other things, also leads to the painful procedure often being carried out without anaesthesia.

Another reason why Croatian women prefer to travel to Slovenia is the availability of an easier method of chemically induced abortion, which is only performed at two Croatian clinics, in Rijeka and Pulj. Furthermore, the general attitude towards women who chose an abortion is helpful and supportive in Slovenia, compared to the increasingly hostile environment in Croatia with regard to women and their reproductive rights. A recent case Tednik reported on involves a Croatian woman who had been molested by a close relative and got pregnant in the process. Croatian doctors refused to perform an abortion as it would mean “destruction of evidence”. With some help of the NGOs, the woman eventually managed to get the procedure done in Slovenia.

Abortion is part of the Slovenia’s health insurance plan, but not for Croatian citizens, who also have to pay for it in Croatia, if they’re lucky enough to find someone who is willing to perform it at all. Travelling to Slovenia is also not an option for everyone, as some people cannot afford to, while others do not want others to perhaps learn of the true purpose of their cross-border journey.  

While Slovenia also allows gynaecologists to refuse to perform an abortion on moral grounds, only 10 out of 296 have invoked this right.

The legislation Slovenia and Croatia inherited from Yugoslavia was liberal with regard to family planning. However, following the independence of both, Slovenia was mostly led by liberal governments, while Croatia turned right, which pushed for a Catholic re-sacralisation of society.

A work group of the Croatian Parliament is currently drafting a new abortion legislation. The draft was supposed to be finished this March, but it wasn’t. The position of the current Health Minister Milan Kujundžić, who is supervising the drafting of the new law, suggests that we might see even more Croatian women coming to Slovenia for abortions in the future. Mr. Kujundžić believes that life begins with conception, that abortion is an act of evil, and that Church should be included in the debate over women’s reproductive rights.

16 Apr 2019, 18:00 PM

STA, 16 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec called for a European Commission that would consistently implement the rule of law and respect small member states as he gave an interview for Politico. His vote for the next European Commission chief will go to Margrethe Vestager (ALDE).

In the interview, Šarec took issue with the Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for implying that small EU members did not have the same status as large countries such as France, and for not taking sides in the border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia.

Šarec suggested that the soft-handed approach could have been politically motivated since Juncker and the ruling Croatian party belonged to the same European Parliament group, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP).

He said that the Commission should have urged Croatia to respect the border decision, which was handed down in Slovenia's favour by an international arbitration panel in 2017, adding that the decision was valid no matter the surrounding controversy.

"We need a European Commission which will obey the rule of law ... we need a Commission which will be less political," said Šarec, pointing out that Vestager, his choice for the next Commission chief, had a "common sense" vision for the EU.

Hailing from Denmark, Vestager also has more understanding for small member states, according to Šarec. Both of them belong to the ALDE alliance of European liberal parties, with the competition commissioner being considered the party's top candidate for the Commission presidency.

He also called for an EU which would be faster at making decisions and expressed his disapproval of the Spitzenkandidat process, describing it as "not legal" and "not democratic".

Commenting on European Parliament President Antonio Tajani's recent controversial remarks, which implied Italy's territorial claims on parts of Slovenia and Croatia, Šarec called them an outrageous example of WWII revisionism and declared Tajani unfit for his office.

He urged taking measures that the next European Parliament president would not be someone who advocated such problematic statements and views.

Politico also addressed Šarec's stand-up past, pointing out that a number of former comedians have started performing in the EU political arena in recent years.

The Slovenian prime minister welcomed this trend, saying that some characteristics were useful in both worlds, including being observant, brave and a quick learner, as well as a performer skilled at reading people.

11 Apr 2019, 09:26 AM

STA, 10 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has expressed regret about the European Commission's lukewarm response to the media reports that Croatia had been behind the border arbitration scandal and that it had even tried to prevent the revelations from being published.

 

Arriving in Brussels on Wednesday for an EU summit dedicated to Brexit, Šarec said he had expected the Commission call for respect for the rule of law and declare pressure on the media unacceptable, in particular when they came from a neighbour country.

Šarec also commented on criticism at home that he was trying to create a state of emergency ahead of the EU elections. "There's no state of emergency. We have responded to the pressure, we've convened the National Security Council because there was a series of initiatives for that, and I find that's right."

"We cannot be humble all the time, turning the other cheek, we must speak out when things are wrong. We've done that too. This doesn't mean we're creating a state of emergency, there's no state of emergency," Šarec said.

Related: A timeline of the Slovenia-Croatia border dispute

The National Security Council met yesterday in the wake of a report by the commercial broadcaster POP TV that an intermediary working on behalf of the Croatian government had sought to prevent its news portal from running a story last week proving that the Croatian intelligence agency was responsible for intercepting the phone calls between Slovenia's judge and agent in the border arbitration in July 2015, which Croatia used as an excuse to withdraw from the arbitration process.

He said that it was a perfectly justified reaction to summon the Slovenian ambassador to Croatia to come to Ljubljana to explain the situation, and to summon the Croatian ambassador for talks, which was to show Slovenia as a sovereign country with its own position.

"If in the past our leaders were too servile, I cannot help it. I act the way I think is right," he said.

Asked whether he planned to discuss the matter with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković and EU leaders, Šarec said that he always exchanged a few words with Plenković at the summit and that they would also have a word at the summit of China and 16 central and east European countries in Croatia's Split on Thursday.

"As far as I know Croatian journalists have joined in the protest against such interference in the media," Šarec said, referring to the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists backing the Slovenian Journalists' Association in condemning the pressure on POP TV.

Provided an opportunity, Šarec plans to have a word about the issue with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, but he does not believe he will get any other answer from the one already issued by the Commission. "The time has obviously come for elections and for change," he said.

Šarec will tell Plenković that the rule of law must be observed and that pressure on the media is unacceptable, he said. "We expect Croatia to refrain from such acts, to implement the arbitration award as soon as possible, and to stop with the practice that is not in Slovenia's or Croatia's interests."

The European Commission did not wish to comment on the revelations yesterday, saying this was a bilateral affair. The Commission reacted in a similar way the day before when asked to comment on Hungary's protest over the cover of the Mladina magazine portraying the Hungarian PM.

Šarec – May “brings nothing new to the table” on Brexit

STA, 10 April 2019 - Slovenia continues to support as short a delay of Brexit as possible, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said as he arrived for the latest EU's Brexit summit in Brussels on Wednesday. We fear that Britain, should it hold the EU election and stay a member, would not be constructive, he said.

"You know how it is in politics. There are no guarantees in politics. All these safeguards to be adopted potentially can only be political. Should for instance a change of power occur in Great Britain, we have no way of knowing who comes after Theresa May and how they would behave," the Slovenian PM said in his doorstep statement.

He reiterated that what mattered most was not Britain but how the EU will function. "In case a blockade occurred, if we found ourselves in a situation where the institutions are blocked, we'd be in serious trouble."

Šarec does not know what to expect from tonight's developments, arguing that "Theresa May arrives each time to explain things while she brings nothing new to put on the table".

All our stories on Slovenia and Brexit are here

10 Apr 2019, 12:33 PM

STA, 9 April 2019 - Slovenia and Croatia have been locked in the border dispute ever since they declared independence almost 28 years ago. The countries have seen several intelligence scandals since, the last one prompting PM Marjan Šarec to call a session of the National Security Council. Below is a timeline of the developments.

25 June 1991 - Slovenia adopts the Basic Constitutional Charter on Independence, which states that the borders of the republics in the former Yugoslavia are the internationally-recognised borders of the new state. Croatia makes a similar declaration.

11 January 1992 - The Arbitration Commission of the Conference on Yugoslavia (the Badinter Commission) adopts the position that the borders of the former Yugoslav republics are the borders of the newly-emerged countries in the region.

28 April 1997 - Slovenia and Croatia sign the Agreement on Border Transport and Cooperation (SOPS) in a bid to facilitate the movement of people living in border areas (all municipalities within the 10-km belt of the border on both sides). The Croatian parliament ratifies the treaty the same year, Slovenia follows suit in June 2001. Even though the agreement also imposes the fishing regime in the Bay of Piran, incidents involving fishermen would be rife in the years to come.

January 1998 - Two operatives of the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Service (OVS) stray into Croatia in a spy van near the town of Zavrč. Their van is confiscated by the Croatian authorities, including the equipment with intelligence. Croatia does not return the van to Slovenia until 2001.

20 July 2001 - The Slovenian and Croatian governments endorse and initial a draft agreement on the border hammered out by the prime ministers, Janez Drnovšek and Ivica Račan. This is the first time that the two countries determine the border at sea. The agreement gives Slovenia 80% of the Bay of Piran and a corridor with access to international waters; Croatia retains contact with Italian territorial waters. The Slovenian parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee confirms the treaty, but the Croatian parliament is staunchly against.

4 September 2002 - Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Račan sends a letter to Slovenia in which Croatia announces it is withdrawing from the Drnovšek-Račan agreement.

3 October 2004 - Croatia implements a protective ecological and fisheries zone in the Adriatic Sea a year after declaring it despite protests from Slovenia and Italy.

10 June 2005 - The governments of Slovenia and Croatia sign the Brijuni Declaration at their first joint meeting, pledging to avoid incidents on the border and to respect the state on the ground as on 25 June 1991.

4 October 2005 - The Slovenian National Assembly passes a law declaring a Slovenian ecological zone and epicontinental belt in the Adriatic which includes a provision that says the demarcation still needs to be agreed at bilateral level.

5 January 2006 - Slovenia declares the whole of the Bay of Piran as its fishing area.

31 August 2006 - In one of the gravest escalations, Slovenia deploys members of a special police force to the area near the Slovenian border village of Hotiza on the north bank of the Mura river in the north-east of the country after Croatia has begun building an embankment and a road towards the Slovenian settlement Brezovec-part or Mirišče without having obtained consent from Slovenia.

June 2007 - Former Slovenian Prime Minister Tone Rop tells a reporter off the record that, prior to the 2004 election, the Slovenian intelligence agency SOVA had intercepted the then opposition leader Janez Janša and Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader as they were plotting border incidents in the Bay of Piran. Due to the revelations, Rop is later fined by court for disclosure of secret data but later acquitted by a higher court.

26 August 2007 - The Slovenian and Croatian prime ministers, Janez Janša and Ivo Sanader, reach an informal agreement in principle at their meeting in Slovenia's Bled to put the border issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

4 November 2009 - Prime Minister Borut Pahor and his Croatian counterpart Jadranka Kosor sign an arbitration agreement in Stockholm, Sweden, under the auspices of the Swedish EU presidency. The treaty sets forth that an arbitration tribunal shall determine the land and sea border, Slovenia's junction with high seas and a regime for the use of maritime zones.

22 July 2015 - The Croatian newspaper Večernji List publishes a recording of phone conversations between Slovenian member of the arbitration tribunal Jernej Sekolec and Slovenian agent in the case Simona Drenik discussing details of the tribunal's confidential deliberations. The scandal prompts the pair to step down and Croatia withdraws from the arbitration process although the tribunal later decides it will resume its work.

29 June 2017 - The arbitration tribunal declares its final decision on the border, awarding Slovenia the bulk of the Bay of Piran, as well as a belt extending 2.5 nautical miles in width that represents Slovenia's junction with the open seas. The border on land largely follows the demarcation of cadastral municipalities.

3 April 2019 - The news web site 24ur.com reports that arbiter Sekolec and agent Drenik were tapped by the Croatian Intelligence Service (SOA) through its operative Davor Franić. The commercial broadcaster POP TV later reveals that the Croatian government had attempted to prevent the publication of the revelations by means of a go-between. Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec responds on 9 April by calling a session of the national Security Council and the Foreign Ministry summons the Croatian ambassador to Slovenia and the Slovenian ambassador to Croatia for talks in Ljubljana.

10 Apr 2019, 08:00 AM

STA, 9 April 2019 - Reports that Croatia tried to prevent Slovenian media from reporting on Croatia's intelligence activities in Slovenia prompted strong reactions from senior officials, with PM Marjan Šarec calling a session of the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry summoning Croatian Ambassador Boris Grigić for talks.

It was POP TV which reported on Monday that the Croatian government had used an intermediary to try to prevent the private broadcaster's news portal from revealing last week that the Croatian intelligence agency SOA was behind the tapping of the phone calls between Slovenia's judge and agent in the border arbitration in July 2015.

The recorded conversations were leaked the same month only to have Croatia declare the border arbitration process "irrevocably compromised".

POP TV also said "one of the most influential Croatian media houses and a good friend of numerous Croatian politicians tried to prevent or even bribe a director of a foreign multinational to put pressure on POP TV."

The reports prompted Prime Minister Marjan Šarec to call a session of the National Security Council today after he had expressed concern over the news, saying that "these are serious accusations, which call for appropriate explanations."

The session was called by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and also featured, in addition to key ministers, President Borut Pahor, parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan, and MP Franc Breznik of the largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS).

Also attending were Damir Črnčec, the state secretary in the prime minister's office in charge of national security, and Rajko Kozmelj, the director of the national intelligence and security agency SOVA.

The Government Communication Office said that the council had condemned any attempts at influencing freedom of the Slovenian media.

It said it expected from Croatia to refrain in the future from acts which were in opposition with the EU values, the rule of law and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that the ministry had already summoned the Croatian Ambassador to Slovenia Boris Grigić for talks. Cerar will be meeting on Wednesday Slovenian Ambassador to Croatia Smiljana Knez, who has also been summoned to Ljubljana.

Cerar said that foreign countries' interference and pressure on the Slovenia media were unacceptable, declaring that Slovenia would be unyielding in defence of the freedom of speech.

Židan said before the session that it was a serious issue which "encroaches upon the essence of the EU, which must function on the basis of trust and solidarity and not on unlawful practices in any case."

The pressure on POP TV was also condemned by several parties, including the heads of the deputy groups of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and the opposition Left, Franc Jurša and Matej T. Vatovec.

According to POP TV, the high-ranking media official who had tried to put pressure on the broadcaster was Ivan Tolj, a 51-year-old Franciscan priest, who is a Croatian representative of the Styria Media Group.

Only Breznik gave a statement to the press after the session, saying that the participants had not received much more information than the media had already possessed before the session.

He proposed that SOVA representatives listen to the recordings and prove the influence of the Croatian government on Tolj, and to find out whether the report was true or not.

"But we did not get this proof," he said, adding that Šarec did not allow that, which makes Breznik believe that the session was about "minor information serving the prime minister in his daily political debates".

The General Police Administration meanwhile confirmed for the STA that it was conducting a pre-trial investigation of a suspected criminal act in relation to the wiretapping scandal and the alleged attempts by the Croatian government to influence the Slovenian media.

POP TV said that two of its journalists had been interviewed today by police officers. According to the broadcaster, the police is investigating the suspicion of criminal acts of wiretapping of journalists and corruption.

While the police did not provide any names of suspects, POP TV said that Tolj was among them.

The SOA denied the reporting by POP TV labelling it as "untruthful and a tendentious construct", and as a continuation of the media campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina designed to smear the SOA and Croatia.

The Croatian government also rejected "fully and most resolutely" all reports on attempts on any influence on the Slovenian media.

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković told the press in Zagreb that his government had "no possibilities or ambition to influence reports in the Slovenian media", as reported by the regional TV station N1.

According to unofficial information, the Slovenian government will continue with all activities aimed at implementing the decision of the border arbitration tribunal "regardless of the new facts".

The issue will also be discussed tomorrow by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission and expectedly the Foreign Policy Committee as part of questions from MPs.

09 Apr 2019, 16:47 PM

STA, 9 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has called a session of the National Security Council for this afternoon after media reported that Croatia had tried to prevent Slovenian media from reporting on Croatia's intelligence activities in Slovenia.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar announced that the ministry had already summoned the Croatian Ambassador to Slovenia Boris Grigić for talks, to be conducted by State Secretary Simona Leskovar this afternoon, while he would be meeting on Wednesday Slovenian Ambassador to Croatia Smiljana Knez, who has also been summoned to Ljubljana.

The prime minister is concerned by the news that Croatian officials had attempted to influence the reporting of the commercial broadcaster POP TV on the activities of the Croatian intelligence service, the office said.

These are serious accusations, which call for appropriate explanations, it added ahead of the session of the national Security Council, scheduled for 4 PM.

Exercising any kind of pressure on media outlets is inadmissible and runs contrary to the fundamental principles of democracy, the office said.

"If such pressure is even dictated by a foreign government, then this points to a big democratic deficit and a shift from fundamental European values, including the rule of law," Šarec's office stressed.

Cerar said that foreign countries' interference and pressure on the Slovenia media were unacceptable, declaring that Slovenia would be unyielding in defence of the freedom of speech.

"Slovenia has grown up respecting media freedom, the freedom of speech, and will therefore not yield in the defence of media freedom and the freedom of speech," said Cerar, adding that this was a democratic asset that must be defended not only in Slovenia but also in Europe, and promoted worldwide.

The revelations made by POP TV were not new to Cerar, who reported that there had been a series of incidents while he served as prime minister, but the prime goal at the time was for the arbitration process to get completed and for the border solution to be reached.

He said that as prime minister he had reasoned that any escalation would harm Slovenia's interests. "We were also bound by Article 10 of the Arbitration Agreement which provides that the parties shall refrain from escalation of tensions lest it should jeopardise the procedure and the goal."

Cerar said he did not know how Croatia would react to the disclosure, but he opined that the reactions this far suggest the Croatian authorities are in a tight spot. He said such conduct was not befitting Europe and that everything should be done to prevent such developments in the future.

He expects the Croatian government to take measures accordingly and that the two countries would form their relationship on different foundations, "not unfriendly, un-European foundations that are not in compliance with the rule of law".

Cerar said he was coordinating his activities with the prime minister. He will take part in the National Security Council's session, which he expects will discuss further steps.

Due to recurring incidents in the Bay of Piran and Croatia's violation of the border drawn by the arbitration tribunal, Cerar urged Šarec more than a week ago to call a political coordination meeting on the implementation of the arbitration award, which he said must be executed by both countries.

"We know the arbitration award is not ideal for either party, we know neither party is entirely pleased with it, but we committed to implement it and it must be implemented," he said, adding that EU countries were expected to respect basic values. "Respecting the rule of law and media freedom remain basic values for Slovenia that we will defend unconditionally."

POP TV reported on Monday that the Croatian government had used an intermediary to try to prevent the commercial broadcaster's news portal from revealing that the Croatian intelligence agency SOA was behind the tapping of the phone calls between Slovenia's judge and agent in the border arbitration in July 2015.

POP TV also alleged that Croatia was spying on foreign media. "The intention to run the story was known only to two POP TV journalists. Croatia could have learned about this only with special intelligence methods," said POP TV journalist Jure Tepina.

SOA today denied reporting by POP TV labelling it as "untruthful and a tendentious construct", and as a continuation of the media campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina designed to smear SOA and Croatia.

While the STA has been unable to get any official response from the Croatian government, the Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List reported today that the Croatian government denied the reports.

The coalition Social Democrats (SD) called for a session of the National Security Council in the wake of the latest revelations late last night.

The party argued that the council should meet to discuss what "peaceful and prudent steps should be taken to protect our country, people, media and democracy."

The party added that the top Slovenian politicians must decide on an appropriate way to respond to the situation and inform "our partners in the EU on Croatia's grave violation of European values and the rule of law."

09 Apr 2019, 11:24 AM

STA, 8 April 2019 - POP TV reported on Monday that the Croatian government had used an intermediary to try to prevent the commercial broadcaster's news portal from revealing that the Croatian intelligence agency SOA was behind the tapping of the phone calls between Slovenia's judge and agent in the border arbitration.

It was 24ur.com which reported last week that the communication between Jernej Sekolec and agent Simona Drenik, who were not allowed to communicate with each other, was reportedly picked up in July 2015 by SOA operative Davor Franić.

The recorded conversations were leaked the same month only to have Croatia declare the border arbitration process "irrevocably compromised".

POP TV journalist Jure Tepina said today that a day before the portal planned to publish the name and a photograph of the Croatian operative, a phone call came from a person asking the portal not to run the story.

"The lobbyist who contacted us was not even aware of the consequences, and he did not know who had actually ordered the attempt to put pressure on an independent Slovenian media house," Tepina said.

"The intention to run the story was known only to two POP TV journalists. Croatia could have learned about this only with special intelligence methods," he added, suggesting that Croatia is spying on journalists.

Tepina said that it was not the only attempt from Croatia to prevent the name of the Croatian operative and the conspiracy by the SOA from being revealed to the Slovenian and foreign public.

"A member of the management board of one of the most influential Croatian media houses and a good friend of numerous Croatian politicians tried to prevent or even bribe a director of a foreign multinational to put pressure on POP TV."

POP TV revealed in its evening news show later in the day that the high-ranking media official was Ivan Tolj, a 51-year-old Franciscan priest "with great influence on the Croatian media".

Citing Croatian media reports, Tepina said in an article posted on 24ur.com that Tolj headed a small parish in Bosnia but spent most of his days in Zagreb, working as a representative of Styria, the Austrian-owned publisher of Večernji List, the paper that first ran the Sekolec-Drenik wire taps in 2015.

Tolj also seems to be close to the Croatian political elite. He has hosted President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović in his home town in Bosnia a number of times, according to Tepina. He was a friend of former Prime Minister Ivica Račan and an ally of former President Ivo Josipović.

24ur.com has published an audio recording of the conversation, in which Tolj says he "has a proposal from the Croatian government" and asks for help. He asks the person on the other side of the line whether he had "influence on POP TV".

Croatia officially denies the report about its intelligence agency being behind the wiretapping and claims that the story is a fabrication.

If this is so, the question is "why the Croatian side would bother so much to influence a foreign media house and prevent the release of a story, for which it claims, without any proof, that it is a fabrication", Tepina wonders.

Croatia has been rejecting any responsibility for the recordings of the conversations between Sekolec and Drenik, which were first published by the Croatian media.

05 Apr 2019, 09:30 AM

STA, 4 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressed concern on Thursday over the news that the Croatian Intelligence Agency (SOA) was behind the wire-tapping of Slovenia's arbitrator and agent in the border arbitration. "If this is the modus operandi in the EU we are concerned," the PM said after today's government session.

Šarec said the head of the Slovenian national intelligence agency SOVA had presented the situation in this case and in the Balkans to cabinet members behind closed doors today.

"I will not go into detail because these are matters of the system of national security and the intelligence agency and it is not wise to talk too much," he said, adding though that what they had heard was worrying.

"On the one hand we are happy because the intelligence agency is doing a good job, but on the other we are concerned if this is the modus operandi within the EU and if this is how countries which are supposed to be friendly treat each other."

News portal 24ur.com reported on Wednesday that the SOA was the one who wire tapped the phone calls between Jernej Sekolec and agent Simona Drenik, who were not allowed to communicate with each other, in July 2015.

After the recordings of the conversations were leaked, Croatia declared the process irrevocably tainted.

Even though Sekolec and Drenik resigned and the tribunal decided the breach was not so grave as to derail the process, Croatia declared it would not accept the arbitration award.

So far it had been speculated that German or US intelligence services were behind the wire-tapping.

The prime minister stressed that the arbitration process was now concluded and that solving the border issue through arbitration had been a condition for Slovenia's support to Croatia's EU membership.

"This is why what we heard today did not give us optimism regarding our neighbourly relations," he said, adding that Slovenia would continue to act in the European spirit.

The Croatian side rejected today any involvement of its intelligence services, with Foreign Ministry State Secretary for European Affairs Andreja Metelko Zgombić telling the press she did "not know where the Slovenian prime minister got such information from".

She said Croatia had not been able to determine how the story about the collusion on the Slovenian side had arrived to Croatia media.

Meanwhile, Slovenian Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, who was foreign minister at the time of the wire-tapping scandal, told the press today he was happy that it was finally clear who had conducted the wire-tapping.

"Obviously this was the job of Croatian secret services for a reason, because the Croatian leadership obviously thought the arbitration award would not be favourable for Croatia, that Slovenia will be given free access to high seas and more than half of the Piran Bay. Obviously they wanted to discredit the procedure," he said.

He added that Croatia had also picked the perfect timing to release the recordings, when he was on a private trip abroad with his wife.

Erjavec refused to speculate whether the revelation that the SOA wire tapped the Slovenian officials would in any way help Slovenia's efforts for the implementation of the arbitration award.

The report on wiretapping to Sekolec and Drenik will be discussed by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission next Wednesday. The commission will also debate the situation in the Western Balkans and an increase in illegal migration.

Slovenia launched proceedings against Croatia over its non-implementation of the arbitration award before the EU's Court of Justice in the mid-March 2018. It argues that Croatia infringes EU law by refusing to implement the June 2017 award of the arbitration tribunal.

03 Apr 2019, 18:48 PM

STA, 3 April 2019 - The recordings of phone calls between Slovenia's arbitrator and agent in the border arbitration, which were leaked to the public only to have Croatia declare the process irrevocably tainted, were made by the Croatian Intelligence Agency (SOA), news portal 24ur.com reported on Wednesday.

The communication between Jernej Sekolec and agent Simona Drenik, who were not allowed to communicate with each other, was reportedly picked up in July 2015 by SOA operative Davor Franić.

According to 24ur.com, which quotes Bosnian media and own sources at SOA, Franić has triggered a number of scandals under the instruction of top Croatian politicians.

After the recordings of the conversations between Sekolec and Drenik were leaked in the summer of 2015, both of them resigned.

Even though the tribunal decided the breach was not so grave as to abort the process, Croatia declared the process irrevocably compromised and declared it would not accept the arbitration award.

So far it had been speculated that German or US intelligence services were behind the wire-tapping.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry would not comment on the news today, saying only that it had closely cooperated with the relevant Slovenian bodies after the recordings were made public.

The police told 24ur.com that they could not reveal any details from on-going investigations.

According to the web portal, Franić was a low-profile agent until only a few months ago. Allegedly he had been involved in several failed operations, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But after the arbitration operation, he was propelled to the very top of the SOA, where he is now the chief of staff in the office of the SOA head, Daniel Markić.

A few days ago, his name came up in a case involving recruiting of fighters and smuggling weapons from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, with which Croatia allegedly attempted to show its neighbouring country as a playground for terrorist.

Franić was allegedly using Bosnian hauliers who have a residence permit in Slovenia as weapons mules. The hauliers reportedly turned to the Bosnian Embassy in Ljubljana for help.

All our stories about the Croatian border can be found here

28 Mar 2019, 10:00 AM

STA, 27 March 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar announced on Wednesday that Slovenia would issue a diplomatic note to Croatia over a grave border violation by a Croatian police boat in the Bay of Piran last Sunday.

Cerar said the boat crossing 2.5 km into Slovenian waters and even 1.3 km across the bay's midline was a special kind of provocation.

He spoke of an unnecessary escalation between the two countries, of a failure to honour international and EU law and of a violation of the Schengen border - by a country that would like to become a member of the Schengen area.

The newspaper Delo has reported that the Croatian police blamed their excursion on problems with navigation equipment.

"This is obviously just an excuse and as such completely unacceptable", Cerar commented, saying accepting this would be an "affront to the intelligence and abilities of the Croatian police authorities, which know exactly what they are doing".

The latest incident is part of a long history of run-ins in the bay featuring police and fishing boats on both sides of the border.

Since June 2017 the bay has also become the central theatre of the two sides' take on the international border arbitration decision, which Croatia is refusing to implement. The arbitration award gives 80% of the bay to Slovenia.

Cerar added today that Sunday's incident proved the implementation of the arbitration award was urgent, not only from the legal and political standpoints and bilateral relations but also because of "the entire European story".

"Such behaviour is not European and also serves as a poor example to the Western Balkans," Cerar said, adding the EU was constantly repeating that membership candidates needed to respect international law.

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