Monday

22nd Apr 2019

EU officials tire of Croatia-Slovenia dispute

In a new setback to Croatia's EU bid, the Czech EU presidency on Wednesday (24 June) cancelled an EU-Croatia intergovernmental conference planned for 26 June due to a lack of progress in Croatia and Slovenia's border dispute which has been blocking Zagreb's EU accession talks for six months.

"Despite substantial efforts to facilitate a solution to the country's border dispute with Slovenia, Croatia's accession talks remain blocked and no new chapters can be formally opened or closed," the Czech presidency said in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Slovenia and Croatia have been unable to agree on their common land and especially sea border since the two countries declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. In December, Slovenia blocked Croatia's accession negotiations over the issue and attempts by EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn to set up a form of international mediation between the two countries to break the deadlock failed last week.

Additionally, Slovenia on Tuesday blocked the closing of another chapter of Croatia's 35-chapter EU accession negotiations package – the one on Statistics – bringing the number of chapters currently blocked to 13 - nine for opening and four for closing.

This cancellation of the meeting means that no EU accession conference with Croatia will have been organised during the Czech Republic's six-month presidency. It is the first time no such conference has taken place under a presidency since Croatia started EU talks in October 2005.

Meanwhile on Tuesday (23 June), Slovenia urged the EU not to give up on helping the two countries find a solution to their dispute, which it said is within reach.

"Slovenia will propose officially to the European Commission to continue the process," Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

A number of EU member states – "the big ones as well as countries from the region," such as Greece and Cyprus – are also calling for further EU efforts, both from the commission and from the presidency, to break the deadlock, according to diplomatic sources.

But the issue has fatigued diplomats in Brussels. Both Mr Rehn and the incoming Swedish EU presidency have told the two countries to sort out the issue between themselves.

"The European Commission has tried to help Croatia and Slovenia solve their 18-year-old dispute. But, after six months of work and discussion, I believe it is up to Croatia and Slovenia to find a solution," Mr Rehn said.

Slovenia not acting in the European spirit

This shows that "apparently, everyone is fed up [with the issue]," according to Gergana Noutcheva, an analyst specialised in South East Europe with the Brussels-based think-tank Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

Slovenia's behaviour and its firm position in this dispute "does not make a good impression," she told EUobserver.

Because Slovenia is now an EU member state – it joined the bloc in 2004 – it is in a position of force and what it is doing now is "a sort of blackmail."

"It is rather Balkan [behaviour] and not very ‘European.' The other member states should bring Slovenia to its senses," Ms Noutcheva said.

The Slovenia-Croatia case is similar to that of another EU candidate, Macedonia, which has been unable to even start EU accession talks for almost four years due to a dispute with Greece over its name.

"It is the same story again," Ms Noutcheva said, adding that "if everyone started to [use enlargement to] get even like this," it would go against all European values.

"It is not the spirit of the EU, of European integration and of enlargement," the analyst pointed out.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us