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.
Zunanji minister ??@AnzeLog z zunanjim ministrom ??@grlicradman o čezmejnem sodelovanju in skupnih ukrepih za odpravljanje posledic epidemije #COVIDー19 ? https://t.co/La9lYX5I1H pic.twitter.com/1fjAg7zNEh— SLOVENIAN MFA (@MZZRS) May 22, 2020
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.