The European Commission’s (EC) decision to reject a report by its legal department which favours Slovenia’s position in a territorial dispute with Croatia is a “bad message for future border agreements in the Western Balkans,” Slovenian President Borut Pahor told Slovenia’s STA news agency.
“The European Commission has missed an opportunity to comply with its own legal department and to send a message that ratified bilateral agreements must be respected and make sure an arbitrary agreement defines the border,” Pahor said, commenting on an article by the German ‘Der Spiegel’ newspaper, which said that most of the complaints Ljubljana submitted in its lawsuit against Croatia, blaming it of not implementing the arbitrary decision on the border, were justified.
“That is the core of the opinion the Commission did not take into account on political grounds,” he stressed.
EC President Jean-Claude Juncker did not want to get involved in the dispute between the two countries over maritime borders, although the EC legal department clearly stated Slovenia is right and that the EC should behave according to that fact. The department’s May 18 document which Der Spiegel obtained, clearly sides with Slovenia, the paper said.
But the Croatian Government on Sunday said the EC decision not to get involved is correct.
The stance of Croatia, which has left the arbitration agreement after Slovenia compromised it and does not accept the arbitrary ruling, is that the border issue is bilateral and needs to be solved according to international law.
“The stance of the Croatian Government is that Croatia and Slovenia, as two friendly countries and members of NATO and the EU, need to continue their dialogue and solve the border dispute in a way that will satisfy both parties and in a good neighbourly spirit,” the Croatian Government said.
Der Spiegel wrote that Juncker is refraining from expressing the EU’s stance on the dispute because he was asked to do so by Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic in February this year.
Plenkovic is “part of the same fraction” as Jucker, and if that would have not been the case, the Commission would side with Slovenia and the “damage for Croatia’s image would be huge,” the paper wrote.
It said that Juncker did not want to get the Commission involved because it “would not help anybody.”