Ljubljana related

22 May 2020, 14:56 PM

STA, 22 May 2020 - The Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Gordan Grlić Radman, met Friday to discuss the opening of the countries' shared border which has been closed, with some exceptions, as the countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic. They could however not yet provide an answer to when the border would reopen for everybody.

This was the ministers' first meeting in person. They met at the Dragonja border crossing police station today after having talked several times over the phone and videoconferencing.

They expressed satisfaction that the epidemiological situation in the two countries is very similar. "This will undoubtedly contribute to an agreement on easier crossing of the border," Grlić Radman told the press in a joint statement.

He also said that talks would contribute to make it easier for Croatians to cross the border into Slovenia, noting that the country was an important neighbour and partner.

He did not, however, say how this would happen. "The public will learn very fast when it is time."

Logar said that Slovenia was "playing with an open hand" in talks about border opening. However, the health of Slovenians must be protected and unnecessary risks avoided, he said.

At the moment, Croatia is the only country from where passengers can enter Slovenia without restrictions. Meanwhile, Slovenians can enter Croatia if they have property in the country, a holiday reservation, business or important personal obligations in the country.

The ministers also welcomed the EU's recommendations on the easing of restrictions as regards border permeability.

Logar also commented on the opening of Slovenia's borders with Austria and Italy saying that epidemiological situations in the two countries would have to be taken into account and that Slovenia was doing everything in its power for this to happen as soon as possible.

He also underlined that this would be done in bilateral agreements, adding that Slovenian diplomacy was proactively seeking such agreements.

The ministers also talked about open issues between the two countries. Logar said that they focused above all on issues they themselves could tackle and issues in which the countries have fund a high level of agreement.

Logar also said that Croatia was in a unique position at the moment: presiding the EU Council and getting ready for a parliamentary election simultaneously. "It is a specific time that imposes relatively strong restrictions on talks," Logar said.

Grlić Radman expressed the willingness to discuss all open issues, but also added that these should not come to dominate the countries' relations.

The countries' main open issue is the implementation of the 2017 border arbitration decision which Croatia refuses to accept as binding.

19 May 2020, 13:34 PM

STA, 19 May 2020- Croatians are free to cross the border into Slovenia without having to undergo mandatory quarantine after Croatia became the first country Slovenia put on a list of countries whose nationals may enter without limitations.

The decision was made by the government late on Monday after the National Institute of Public Health assessed the situation in Croatia and determined that the risk to the spread of coronavirus is similar in both countries.

Accordingly, there is no need for Croatians to quarantine or self-isolate when they cross the border, the government said. Slovenian nationals and those with residence in Slovenia have been exempt from quarantine restrictions since last week.

Everyone entering Slovenia regardless of nationality may still be subject to a 14-day quarantine if they have spent more than two weeks outside the EU.

Slovenians are still subject to certain restrictions when they enter Croatia. They may enter if they have property or commercial interests in Croatia and have to produce evidence thereof, for example property deeds, at the border.

The decision to whitelist Croatia comes after Slovenia opted for a gradual approach to opening its borders.

The government decided that the bilateral technical agreements would be concluded with EU and Schengen Zone members on the passage of their citizens, until there is an agreement at the EU level on a reopening of borders.

There are many exceptions in place, including for daily commuters, hauliers and passengers in transit, but theoretically most foreigners thus remain subject to mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Talks on reopening of borders are under way with other neighbouring countries as well.

Jelko Kacin, the government's coronavirus spokesman, said on Tuesday that restrictions on the border with Hungary were expected to be lifted by the end of the month pending an evaluation of the epidemiological situation there.

As for Austria, Kacin said such an agreement depended "on the responsiveness of the Austrian side", saying there were "quite a few dilemmas there," including with regard to one of the hotspots of the outbreak, the ski resort Ischgl.

"Once Austria has properly addressed these issues, we are confident that the conditions for such an agreement with Austria will be satisfied."

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek yesterday held talks with Austrian Minister for Sustainability and Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger.

Kacin said Počivalšek had "very clearly voiced the expectation that we wish for a relaxation in the shortest possible time," noting that the Austrian-German border was set to reopen June, which gave Slovenia and Austria "quite some time before then".

With Italy, Slovenia expects "expert talks at the highest level" about the state of the epidemic there and forecasts, which would be followed by an operational agreement about when and under which conditions the border could reopen.

One more coronavirus infection, no new Covid-19 fatalities

STA, 19 May 2020 - Slovenia confirmed one more coronavirus infection on Monday, raising the total number of confirmed cases so far to 1,467, official data show. The national death toll remains at 104, as no new Covid-19 fatalities have been reported.

A total of 1,128 tests were performed yesterday, roughly on a par with the daily testing volume since the start of the epidemic.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals dropped by one to 24, including five in intensive care - a figure that remained the same compared to Sunday.

23 Apr 2020, 15:46 PM

STA, 23 April 2020 - Mayors of 23 border municipalities have called on the National Assembly to back the activation of an emergency clause that grants soldiers limited police powers to patrol the border, citing a likely mass spread of Covid-19 among migrants as the main reason.

While the government has been unable to secure the two-thirds majority in parliament to activate Article 37.a of the defence act, the mayors argue the army "is the only institution left with a sufficient number of equipped and trained staff to protect the southern border".

The mayors, whose petition is dated 20 April but was published by Defence Minister Matej Tonin on Wednesday, are surprised by the reservations concerning an expanded use of the army on the border in a time when Slovenia is trying to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

They fear a larger number of infected persons could enter Slovenia, since the virus is already present among migrants and a major spread among them will be impossible to prevent given their accommodation situation in Europe and Turkey.

The mayors are aware of proposals to activate backup police and retired officers and "do not oppose them, but it has been shown in the past that such measures do not enable the activation of several thousand additional people",

While soldiers are already assisting the police on the border, the mayors believe that not being able to restrict the movement of persons and take part in crowd control along the border - the powers granted by Article 37.a - renders the soldiers meaningless.

The mayors moreover argue that the likelihood of a certain number of police officers falling ill also needed to be taken into account in a situation where there are not enough officers on the border to protect it effectively as it is.

It was Emil Rojc, the mayor Ilirska Bistrica which borders on Croatia, that handed the petition to Tonin. According to the minister, the mayors "claim the people are not afraid of the Slovenian army and want greater security".

The coalition has failed to the get the opposition on board for the temporary activation of the additional army powers. The parties mostly claim there has been no significant uptick in migrant numbers that would warrant this, while some have unsuccessfully proposed restrictions to the extra powers.

The government has however remained determined to push ahead with the plan, also getting the backing of President Borut Pahor, the commander-in-chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces, who visited the southern border area along the Kolpa river in the company of the interior and defence minister last Wednesday.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the press last Thursday that the government plans to nevertheless deploy soldiers if needed, using a different legislative provision that allows a more limited form of deployment.

Article 37.a was adopted at the peak of the migration crisis, in October 2015, and invoked in February 2016 to help police patrol the border. Over 442,000 migrants had entered the country between 16 October 2015 and 1 February 2016.

Police recorded 1,835 illegal crossings of the border in the first three months of 2020, which is 6.5% more than in the same period last year.

However, according to Monday's report by TV Slovenija, the number of illegal crossing recorded halved after the coronavirus epidemic was declared in Slovenia. The total figures for 1 January to 20 April were 2,396 in 2019 and 2,038 in 2020.

01 Apr 2020, 10:09 AM

STA, 31 March 2020 - The government has adopted a motion that, if passed in parliament, will activate a legislative provision that gives the military limited police powers in controlling the border. To be passed, the proposal needs the support of two-thirds of MPs. The National Assembly might discuss it as soon as on Thursday.

In two days, the National Assembly may discuss a mega-package of stimulus measures worth EUR 3 billion to help companies and individuals cope with the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

The government wants to give police powers to the military so as to allow troops to take over some of the tasks from police officers patrolling Slovenia's border with Croatia, which is also the Schengen border.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the Odmevi news show this evening that the proposal has not secured sufficient support in parliament. This comes nearly a week after he said that the government would not go forward with the motion before discussing it with deputy groups.

He said that some remarks by deputy groups had been taken into account, while some could not be. He also said that the remarks were more technical than anything else and believes that the opposition might provide the votes needed for the proposal to pass.

The proposal has raised a lot of dust in public, with many claiming this was a disproportionate measure and that the government was trying to use the coronavirus epidemic to send the military to the border.

Hojs also said last week that the army was not currently needed in Slovenian cities or on the country's roads, but it is "badly needed on Slovenia's southern border" so as to ease the burden on the police force.

The government said in a press release after adopting the proposal that it would brief the relevant parliamentary bodies about the troops' engagement on the border every two weeks and that the troops would have police powers for a period of three months.

Moreover, the troops would be working alongside police officers in line with a plan drafted by the police force and based on its guidelines, the government also said.

11 Mar 2020, 15:27 PM

Croatian police have informed the Slovenian Traffic Information Center that the country is now rejecting all vehicles arriving from Italy at its border crossings.

As such, an increased number of heavy vehicle traffic jams are reported at the border crossings to Croatia, with the line at Obrežje border crossing now being 13-km long. Truck drivers are having to wait in the righthand lane for more than eight hours to exit the country and seven hours to enter.

At Dragonja and Metlika border crossings the waiting line for heavy vehicles to exit the country is a little shorter, at around two hours.

You can follow the conditions at the Traffic Information Centre’s English Website.

31 Jan 2020, 13:13 PM

STA, 31 January 2020 - The EU Court of Justice has decided that a lawsuit Slovenia has brought against Croatia over its refusal to implement the 2017 border arbitration award is inadmissible, but it said in a decision issued on Friday that both countries nevertheless had to endeavour to resolve this dispute in accordance with international law.

The decision is not surprising given that in December the court's Advocate General Priit Pikamäe proposed that the suit be ruled inadmissible. While his opinion was not binding on the court, it was seen as a strong indication of the court's course of action.

Slovenia had built its case around the argument that Croatia infringes several articles of EU law by refusing to implement the award of a border arbitration tribunal that both countries had pledged would be binding.

The advocate general however argued that "the infringements of EU law of which Slovenia accuses Croatia are ancillary to the issue of determining the boundary between those two states, which is a matter of public international law".

The court's Grand Chamber used exactly the same argument in its decision. It said the arbitration tribunal was founded on the basis of international law, whereby "neither the arbitration agreement nor the arbitration award formed an integral part of EU law".

While it is true that the Act of Accession of Croatia to the EU makes a reference to the arbitration award, which Slovenia has interpreted as a strong argument in favour of its position that the court should take on the dispute, the judges did not see that as making the arbitration award a part of EU law.

They said the reference to the arbitration agreement "could not be interpreted as incorporating into EU law the international commitments made by both member states within the framework of the arbitration agreement".

Despite the inadmissibility, the court indicated that both sides needed to respect the arbitration agreement. It said both countries were required by the EU Treaty to "strive sincerely to bring about a definitive legal solution to the dispute consistent with international law, in order to ensure the effective and unhindered application of EU law in the areas concerned".

In order to achieve this, they may use other means of settling their dispute, including a submission to the Court under a special agreement pursuant to Article 273 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which gives the court jurisdiction in any dispute between member states "if the dispute is submitted to it under a special agreement between the parties"

Slovenia had brought the case under Article 259 of the EU Treaty.

Mojca Menard, Slovenia's agent in the case, described the decision as a "dangerous precedent" that is not in line with the court's case law and potentially paves the way for violations of EU law by member states by invoking "allegedly open international issues".

She said it raised the question of how the court may act in the event of violations of fisheries regulations or the Schengen Code by Slovenia of Croatia in the border area. "Which country will then be considered an infringer by the EU Commission," she wondered.

The court's decision is final and cannot be appealed. Menard said it "changes nothing" with regard to the arbitration award or for the border line that the arbitration award determines.

Slovenia sees EU Court ruling as vindication of its position

STA, 31 January 2020 - While the EU Court of Justice did not admit Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia over its refusal to implement the award handed down by the border arbitration tribunal, Slovenia feels vindicated. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said the ruling showed the court saw the border arbitration award as "valid and binding," which was an important goal.

The decision is "not a legal victory for Croatia," which will be "reminded every week that it must respect the arbitration award," he told the press on Friday after the court handed down its decision.

The court said the border between Slovenia and Croatia is determined with the arbitration award, "yet another proof that Slovenia has been right all along - that Croatia must implement the arbitration award as well," said Cerar.

"No antics by the Croatian side can change this fact, which is finally written down black on white in the [court's] statement," said Cerar, who was confident Croatia would gradually recognise it needs to behave more constructively and in line with the law.

"Slovenia must be patient. The law is on our side. The border has been determined and we have signed it into law. There is no reason for any excitement or rushing, but we have to persistently exert legal pressure."

Cerar, a jurist by profession, also expressed disappointment at the court not having had the courage to decide the matter on substance. "This is a defensive stance about the rule of law, the European legal order as well as international law," he said.

If the judges decided to delve into the substance of the matter, they would be bound to decide that Croatia is violating EU law, he said.

Marko Vrevc, a senior Foreign Ministry official who has worked on the border arbitration brief for years, sees the decision as a confirmation that "implementation of the law as interpreted and implemented by Slovenia is fine, and Slovenia will continue to pursue it."

He was particularly pleased with the court's appeal that the two countries should endeavour to bring about a legal solution to the dispute. "We're now counting on Croatia realising in a foreseeable time that this dialogue is needed on this basis."

The court today announced that it was not within its purview to hear the case, but it nevertheless urged both sides to "strive sincerely to bring about a definitive legal solution to the dispute consistent with international law".

Croatia, on the other hand, interprets the decision as a victory of its arguments. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković thus reiterated Croatia's long-held stance that the dispute should be resolved in bilateral talks and urged Slovenia to engage in "dialogue and bilateral negotiations".

24 Jan 2020, 15:13 PM

STA, 24 January 2020 - The EU's Court of Justice will announce on 31 January whether it will admit Slovenia's suit against Croatia over the latter's failure to implement the 2017 border arbitration award, according to a posting on the court's website.

In early December 2019, the court's Advocate General Priit Pikamäe proposed to the court to rule the case inadmissible, which came as a surprise to many in Slovenia.

However, while many agreed the opinion did not bode well for the fate of the procedure, the opinion does not prejudge the court's final decision on admissibility.

Slovenia, arguing Croatia infringes several articles of EU law, brought its case to the EU court in July 2018, after the European Commission refused to do do.

In his no-binding opinion, Pikamäe argued that "the infringements of EU law of which Slovenia accuses Croatia are ancillary to the issue of determining the boundary between those two states, which is a matter of public international law".

His understanding is that since the award has not been implemented, the border between Slovenia and Croatia has not been set, which is why Croatia could not be accused of violating relevant provisions of EU law.

The advocate general interpreted Slovenia's suit as an attempt to force Croatia to implement the border decision, which he argued does not fall under the EU's jurisdiction.

If the court agrees with Pikamäe's opinion, the procedure will stop there. If it admits the case fully or partly, the case will be further processed, followed by another opinion by the advocate general and the final ruling.

Slovenia and Croatia signed the arbitration agreement in November 2009, agreeing to task an international tribunal with settling the border after years of futile attempts to determine the course of the border in the aftermath of the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.

06 Jan 2020, 16:52 PM

STA, 6 January 2020 - President Borut Pahor has congratulated Croatia's newly elected President Zoran Milanović over the phone. "I am happy that he reiterated in our conversation that he wanted to improve relations with Slovenia and that this will be one of his priorities," Pahor told the press on Monday.

"I replied that, in this sense, Slovenia has a friend, somebody completely devoted to dialogue, to finding solutions. But added that he must be aware of my position about the arbitration agreement and that these must be taken into account."

He expressed hope that the dialogue will lead to the implementation of the border arbitration decision through agreement of both countries and to benefit of them both.

Pahor said he would attend Milanović's inauguration in early February, to convey the message that Slovenia and Croatia are neighbouring countries and must also be friendly countries.

He believes that his presence at the inauguration will also be that relations between the two countries were mostly good, bar one, very complicated chapter.

However, a tribunal has decided on the issue and the decision will have to be upheld sooner or later, added Pahor.

Milanović was Croatia's prime minister at the time when Croatia withdrew from the border arbitration procedure, declaring it null and void after a wire tap showed inadmissible communication had taken place between Slovenia's arbitration agent and the tribunal member nominated by Slovenia.

The agent and the tribunal member resigned immediately and the tribunal decided that the breach was not such as to warrant a discontinuation of the arbitration process.

Nonetheless, Croatia withdrew and has been refusing to implement the border arbitration decision ever since it was presented in mid-2017.

Pahor, who signed in his capacity as prime minister in 2009 the arbitration agreement with Croatia that led to the arbitration procedure, said today that he would approach his relationship with President Milanović "with open arms and open doors".

Social Democrats (SD) president Dejan Židan also congratulated Milanović, who is a member of the Croatian Social Democrats (SDP).

Židan expressed confidence that the countries will be able to renew friendly relations "based on the rule of law, mutual respect and dedication to common European values".

16 Dec 2019, 09:42 AM

STA, 15 December 2019 - The National Assembly will start its December session with question time on Monday. The most interesting item on the week's agenda will likely be an investigative report on the arbitration wire taps in 2015 and the second reading of a proposal to abolish voluntary top up health insurance.

The top up insurance abolishment will be discussed on Thursday, with nearly seven hours planned for the debate.

It is unclear whether the changes, proposed by the opposition Left and later reshaped by the parliamentary Health Committee, will garner sufficient support.

Moreover, coalition parties have lodged a number of amendments to the changes, while the Health Insurance Institute has said that the contribution planned to substitute the premiums in the existing system would generate a EUR 70 million shortfall a year.

The coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) is also sceptical of the changes, and wants the document taken off the National Assembly's agenda. DeSUS, similar to the National Party (SNS), also wants to wait for a comprehensive reform promised by the Health Ministry.

But perhaps the most interesting discussion is likely to take place on Wednesday, when the MPs are to talk about a report by the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services looking into the wire taps of communication between Slovenia's agent and Slovenia-appointed arbiter in the border arbitration procedure with Croatia.

The report largely pins the blame on former agent Simona Drenik Bavdek, who has turned to the Administrative Court demanding that the National Assembly remove the report from its website and from the National Assembly's agenda.

The MPs are planned to start discussing the confidential part of the report first, while the session will be opened to the public once the National Assembly starts discussing the publicly accessible part of the report, which is also available on its website.

The MPs will also discuss legislative changes introducing a lump sum aid for families in which the mother is unemployed when she gives birth. The changes would cost EUR 13.5 million, which has not been earmarked in the budget.

On Wednesday, the MPs will also go over the second reading of the bank guarantee bill for the second rail track towards Koper and the third developmental axis, a road project connecting the Koroška and Dolenjska regions.

11 Dec 2019, 15:00 PM

Jump to the Slovenian reaction

STA, 11 December 2019 – The ECJ Advocate General Priit Pikamäe has stated that the EU Court of Justice is not competent to rule Slovenia's case against Croatia over its failure to implement the border arbitration award, having assessed that the case is an international border dispute outside the scope of EU law and thus outside the court's jurisdiction.

"The infringements of EU law of which Slovenia accuses Croatia are ancillary to the issue of determining the boundary between those two states, which is a matter of public international law," the advocate general stated in his opinion, released by the court on Wednesday.

The opinion is not binding on the court. Available statistics show that the court's Grand Chamber, which is deliberating on Slovenia's case, agrees with the advocate general's opinion in about half of the cases.

In its case Slovenia argues that Croatia infringes several articles of EU law by refusing to implement the award as declared by the mutually appointed arbitration tribunal in June 2017.

Slovenia alleges Croatia's infringements of the principles of the rule of law and sincere cooperation, regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy, Schengen rules governing the movement of persons across borders and the directive establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning.

Slovenia has been insisting that its legal action against Croatia is not about the border dispute, which has been resolved through the arbitration award, which is final.

In his opinion, Pikamäe notes that the purpose of an action for failure to fulfil obligations under Article 259 of Treaty on the Functioning of the EU is to obtain a declaration that the conduct of a member state is in breach of EU law and to terminate that conduct.

The advocate general notes that the situations in which the EU is bound by international law are well-established; "it is bound by international conventions concluded by the EU pursuant to the provisions of the Treaties, by international conventions where the EU assumes powers previously exercised by the member states, and by rules of customary international law when the EU exercises its powers".

"International conventions that do not fall within those categories are not acts of the EU and do not bind it," the advocate general finds.

Relying on the court's case law, he points out that "the territorial scope of the Treaties is an objective fact predetermined by the member states which the EU has to accept".

Consequently, he is of the opinion that "delimitation of national territory does not fall within the sphere of competence of the EU or, therefore, of the Court of Justice".

As regards the relationship between, on the one hand, the arbitration agreement and the arbitration award and, on the other hand, EU law, the advocate general says that it does not fall within any of the situations in which the EU is bound by international law.

Concerning the alleged infringement of the value of the rule of law and of the principle of sincere cooperation, he finds that those "are merely ancillary to the issue of delimitation of the land and maritime boundaries between the two member states concerned and that, accordingly, the Court does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine those complaints".

Citing case law, the advocate says that the principle of sincere cooperation has constituted an independent basis for obligations in cases where the EU was party to a mixed agreement or where the obligations being fulfilled arose under the EU Treaties. "However, the conduct at issue does not fall within either of those two situations."

Regarding the alleged failure to fulfil obligations related to the common fisheries policy, border control and maritime spatial planning, Pikamäe says that "Slovenia is relying on the premiss that the boundary has been determined by the arbitration award.

"However (...) the award has not been implemented in the relations between the two member states concerned," so the advocate general "is of the opinion that, from an EU law perspective, the boundary between those two member states has not been established".

Hence, Pikamäe infers that "Slovenia is seeking, by implication, to have the arbitration award implemented, which falls outside the EU's sphere of competence".

His conclusion is that "the alleged infringements of EU law are ancillary to the issue of determining the boundary between Croatia and Slovenia. Determining that boundary is, by its very nature, a matter of public international law in respect of which the Court does not have jurisdiction."

In releasing the advocate general's opinion, the court made a point of noting that the opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice.

"It is the role of the Advocates General to propose to the Court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible."

Now the court's judges will start deliberations on the admissibility of the case. "Judgement will be given at a later date," the release said. Unofficially, it is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

If the court finds the case outside its jurisdiction, the case is closed. However, if it finds the case admissible or partly admissible, another hearing will follow, followed by another opinion of the advocate general and another judgement.

Slovenia rejects Advocate General's opinion

STA, 11 December 2019 - Slovenia did not expect the EU Court of Justice (EJC) advocate general would deem the country's lawsuit against Croatia over EU law violation inadmissible. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar believes the advocate general's reasoning is weak, indicating that the court's decision might be different.

President Borut Pahor said the opinion of the advocate general does not change the fact the border between Slovenia and Croatia had been drawn by a Hague-based international arbitration tribunal.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said that Slovenia remained determined to implement the arbitration decision and that bilateral talks or returning to square one was out of the question.

The Foreign Ministry stressed in a release that Advocate General Priit Pikamäe's position was not binding on the court, noting the procedure at the ECJ would not affect the fact the border arbitration decision from 2017 was valid and binding for Slovenia and Croatia.

Cerar, who called a news conference to comment on the opinion, said the court had so far decided in only five cases brought against a fellow member state and that the court followed the advocate's position in only three of the cases.

He added that the decision had "absolutely no effect on the validity of the arbitration award" and that arguments were on Slovenia's side.

Cerar also highlighted the fact that nobody had ever said Croatia did not have to implement the arbitration award, while many countries had urged it to do so.

When asked whether Slovenia had plan B if the court decided the case was inadmissible, Cerar said plan B was not needed because "there is plan A, which is completely clear: Croatia must implement the arbitration award".

The lawsuit brought against Croatia is in no direct relation to the border arbitration as such, but discusses violations of EU law committed by Croatia, the ministry said in a release.

Slovenia has taken measures and adopted legislation to implement the border arbitration decision, while Croatia is yet to fulfil this obligation, it added.

Pahor and Šarec commented on the matter following a tradition December meeting of the president, the prime minister, the presidents of both chambers of president.

Pahor stressed Slovenia would insist on setting up a Slovenian-Croatian demarcation commission which will set the land border, as envisaged in the arbitrtaion award.

Šarec explained Slovenia had called on Croatia to appoint its members to the commission four times now, but Croatia had failed to respond.

Slovenia's agent Maja Menard meanwhile believes Pikamäe ignored Slovenia's claim and was deciding as if Slovenia had expected the EU court to define the border. On the basis of Croatia's refusal to implement the arbitration award, he also argued the border had not been drawn.

Menard is however reserved in any further comments, saying she must read the full opinion first. This was also echoed by Marko Vrevc of the Foreign Ministry, who said that the advocate general's position was not what Slovenia had expected.

"Slovenia is not taking Croatia to court because the course of the border was unclear but because it realised Croatia was hindering Slovenia from following EU law," Vrevc said, expressing belief that the Luxembourg-based court would decide differently than Pikamäe.

The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) regretted the advocate's position and hopes the ECJ will decide differently. A decision by a panel of judges is expected in a few months' time.

On the other hand, head of the National Party (SNS) Zmago Jelinčič said Slovenia displayed a poor understanding of international law.

Democrats (SDS) head Janez Janša tweeted the Slovenian government had known the outcome in advance and that Cerar, who was prime minister when Slovenia decided to sue Croatia, should cover the expenses from his own pocket.

When asked whether Cerar should be held responsible if thecourt follows the advocate's position, Šarec said the decision to take Croatia to court was a political one, taken after consultations of parliamentary party leaders.

Speaker Dejan Židan was very happy that the prime minister, the president, the upper chamber president and himself displayed complete unity in the face of today's development.

Alojz Kovšca, the National Council president, meanwhile, warned the border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia was a bad signal for other nations with unresolved border issues in the Balkans.

On the other hand, the opposition Left believes Slovenia should take a different approach instead of taking Croatia to court. MP Matej Vatovec reiterated the party's position the lawsuit was barely legitimate.

The coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said Slovenia must persist in getting Croatia to implement the arbitration award even if the court decided the lawsuit was indeed inadmissible.

The SAB, as well as the coalition Social Democrats (SD) underlined the advocate general's position had no bearing on the validity of the arbitration award, which remains a binding element of international law.

All our stories on the border dispute can be found here

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