Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slovenia: Slovenia places conditions on EU proposal for border row with Croatia

Slovenian leaders on Tuesday placed conditions on whether Ljubljana would accept a European Commission proposal for arbitration to solve a long-running border row with Croatia, AFP reported.

"If our amendments, which are crucial for Slovenia's vital interests, are not incorporated, Slovenia will not accept the European Commission's proposal," Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor said after meeting the leaders of the parliamentary parties in Ljubljana.

He added most of the parliamentary party leaders backed a series of amendments to EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn's proposal to solve the border dispute, but he did not give further details on the conditions.

"It (the decision on further talks) is now up to Commissioner Rehn," Pahor said, adding that he would decide on Ljubljana's final position depending on Rehn's reply to the Slovenian demands.
Croatia has already accepted Rehn's proposal.

The European Commission, which has offered to help resolve the border dispute, has proposed setting up an ad hoc international arbitration tribunal.

The proposal came after Ljubljana and Zagreb in March failed to agree terms for EU mediation headed by Finnish Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari.

Slovenia has been blocking Croatia's EU accession talks since December, demanding that the 18-year-long border dispute between the two former Yugoslav republics be solved before negotiations with Zagreb resume.

The row involves a small piece of land and sea and dates back to 1991, when both countries proclaimed independence. A key point for Ljubljana is securing free access to international shipping waters by getting a corridor that would cross Piran bay which is currently controled by Zagreb.

"Our amendments confirm Slovenia's status as a maritime country (with access to international waters)," the head of the main opposition centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party Janez Jansa said after the meeting.

The Slovenian government will finalise on Thursday its amendments to Rehn's proposal and send an official answer to the Commission by the weekend, Pahor said.

Source: FOCUS Information Agency

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