Slovenian MEPs call on Juncker to put pressure on Croatia

NEWS 27.09.2018 19:26
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Source: N1

A group of Slovenia’s MEPs sent a letter to the President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker in which they call on him to demand that Croatia implements the arbitration ruling on the border dispute between the two countries.

In the letter, which was also sent to all the members of the EC, Slovenia’s MEPs Igor Soltes (European Free Alliance), Franc Bogovič (European People’s Party), Tanja Fajon (Party of European Socialists), and Ivo Vajgl (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), ask Juncker to “make a clear demand that Croatia respect the rule of law and implement the legally binding arbitration ruling without further delay.”

The MEPs also said that Juncker was wrong to ignore the official stance of the EC’s legal service.

Earlier in September, the German newspaper ‘Der Spiegel’ published an article, titled ‘The Juncker-Croatia Connection’, which says that the legal department of the European Commission has clearly sided with Slovenia, according to a document from May 18 this year, but that Jucker had rejected their position.

The European Commission decided in June this year it would remain neutral and will not join Slovenia in its announced lawsuit against Croatia for not implementing the arbitration’s border ruling.

The MEPs said that Juncker should have put the legal department’s stance on the EC’s agenda, which he did not do, thereby politicising a legal case and showing favouritism to Croatia.

“Your silence gives a bad example to Western Balkans’ countries because it sends them a message that they don’t have to honour international agreements. That, given the complexity of the relations in the region, could have serious consequences for the future and stability of the region,” they said in the letter.

MEP Igor Soltes said that Juncker had ignored the legal opinions and that the EC should have joined Slovenia in their lawsuit against Croatia at the Court of the Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and that, in not doing that, they had declared the issue to be bilateral.

“It’s very irresponsible and immature that Juncker and his Commission are not performing the basic function of the EC as the guardian of European contracts, which hurts EU’s trustworthiness, as well as its values,” Soltes told reporters in Ljubljana.

One of the EC’s spokesmen said mid-September that the document was discussed, but that it was not on the EC’s agenda, adding that there were no plans for the EC to ever return to the issue.

Slovenian president Borut Pahor said on Wednesday that he did not exclude the possibility that the EC leaders would soon visit Ljubljana and Zagreb to discuss the border arbitration ruling, adding this can in no way be a dialogue on the border issue as a bilateral topic, but an attempt to implement the agreement.

After the document was published, the Croatian government said that the EC had made the right decision to stay out of the lawsuit and get involved in a bilateral dispute between the two EU members.

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