Slovenia's FM puts Zagreb visit on hold until steps are made in border dispute

Slovenia's FM puts Zagreb visit on hold until steps are made in border dispute

Slovenia's FM puts Zagreb visit on hold until steps are made in border dispute Izvor: (ilustracija), Jure Makovec / AFP

Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has said that he and Prime Minister Marjan Sarec have been invited to visit Croatia but that he believes that one should not hurry with that until Croatia makes a step towards recognising the international arbitration ruling on the two countries' border dispute.

"... We both feel that there is no need to hurry with the visit until the other side shows that it is more willing to respect the rule of law," Cerar said in an interview with the Delo newspaper of Saturday.

Cerar noted that despite that, unofficial communication between the two sides, at meetings in Brussels and elsewhere, was normal.

"We communicate normally, but when things are raised to the official level, which has a great symbolical and real meaning, I think that Croatia must realise that it first has to make a step in the right direction," said the Slovenian minister and former prime minister, during whose term Slovenia sued Croatia at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Cerar said that he had tried as prime minister to make sure that the excellent cooperation in areas such as tourism, trade and local border cooperation was not affected by political relations that had deteriorated due to the border dispute, but that by not recognising the arbitration award, Croatia had presented Slovenia with an ultimatum.

"I hope that the (Luxembourg) court will rule that by violating the legally valid arbitration ruling Croatia is also violating EU law," the Slovenian PM said, noting that Slovenia considered the ruling final and legally binding.

The Croatian parliament in 2015 unanimously decided that Croatia should walk out of international arbitration proceedings with Slovenia after recordings were leaked of secret phone conversations between Slovenian Foreign Ministry official Simona Drenik and Slovenian judge Jernej Sekolec, in which they discussed a strategy to influence judges deciding on the arbitration dispute.

Croatia said at the time that Slovenia had irreparably compromised the arbitration proceedings as well as the subsequent ruling, and that talks should be launched to solve the border dispute bilaterally.

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