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Cerar, Plenković remain on opposite banks on border arbitration

Cerar, Plenković remain on opposite banks on border arbitration
PM Miro Cerar and Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković remain on opposite banks after their first meeting following the border arbitration ruling in Ljubljana on Wednesday.

Cerar insisted on the implementation of the ruling, while Plenković reiterated Croatia's position that the ruling was not binding on the country.

Addressing the press after their meeting, Cerar said that the arbitration ruling was a new, positive milestone in Slovenian-Croatian relations.

He pointed out that the award, which the Hague-based arbitration tribunal announced on 29 June, was final and binding on both countries. "It solves the border issue that has long burdened the two neighbouring countries," Cerar said.

The Slovenian prime minister said that he and Plenković had divergent views on the implementation of the ruling determining the course of the border on land and at sea, and that he had insisted on the implementation.

The European Commission, which played an important role in the talks on the arbitration agreement, has called for the implementation, and the signing of the arbitration agreement in 2009 paved the way for Croatia's EU membership, Cerar noted.

The Commission's call for implementation the ruling has nothing to do with its authorities in the matter or expressing support to Slovenia. It was a sign of support for the fundamental EU values and respect for international commitments, especially international courts' rulings, Cerar stressed.

There are no winners or losers in this matter and Slovenia is ready to take steps towards implementing the ruling together with Croatia, he added. "Slovenia is ready to take these steps, we're ready for dialogue, which we've demonstrated today in cooperation with the Croatian side."

He expressed hope that the dialogue would continue and lead to adequate solutions in a reasonable time.

Cerar also pointed out that it was very important for both countries to honour the border line as determined by the arbitration tribunal now that it had been set. "Exercising jurisdiction in line with the arbitration ruling is the best guarantee for avoiding tension or provoking incidents," he said.

Honouring the ruling is a sign of respect for international law and a model for peacefully solving open issues. "That's important not only for Croatia and Slovenia, but also for the wider region and Europe as a whole."

Plenković repeated Croatia's known position on the arbitration and called for dialogue with Slovenia on all open issues.

"As far as we're concerned, the arbitration process has been irreversibly contaminated and tainted with corruption because of the actions of the Slovenian agent and the Slovenian arbitrator," Plenković said in a reference to the 2015 leaked recordings of phone calls between arbitrator Jernej Sekolec and the country's agent in the case, Simona Drenik.

Croatia insists that the arbitration agreement is not binding on the country and has no intention of implementing it, the Croatian prime minister said.

"We are, however, ready for talks with Slovenia on the political, professional and diplomatic levels to give room to a solution to the border issue on land and at sea," he said, adding that Croatia did not want any unilateral moves.

Inviting Cerar to Zagreb to continue talks on open issues, Plenković proposed that a list of these issues is made before the meeting, so that they could try to solve them.

"Given that Slovenia and Croatia are important business partners and cooperate in various areas, we want to highlight what unites us and what we can build on," Plenković said./IBNA

Source: The Slovenia Times

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