Friday

9th Dec 2016

EU relieved after Slovenian vote on border dispute

EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Sunday (6 June) evening was quick in welcoming Slovenia's vote on international mediation of a border dispute with Croatia, a move which allows Zagreb to move forward on its membership talks.

Early results on Monday morning showed a narrow victory for the government's agreement to accept the verdict of an international panel in mediating the dispute on the Bay of Piran, an issue which has poisoned Sloveno-Croat relations since the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Slovenian PM Pahor convinced voters by a narrow margin (Photo: European Commission)

Some 51.5 percent of Slovenes voted in favour of the deal. A negative vote could have held up Croatia's talks with the EU, which had already stalled for almost a year in 2009 when Ljubljana opposed the opening of negotiation chapters due to the border dispute.

Zagreb is now expected to complete membership talks with Brussels in the coming year, putting the Balkan country on track to become the EU's 28th member in 2012.

"This is an important step forward. I very much welcome the support that the Slovenian people have given in the referendum on the border arbitration agreement signed by the governments of Slovenia and Croatia," Mr Barroso said in a statement.

He stressed that resolving the maritime dispute was an "important signal for the region," in reference to various bilateral issues blocking EU talks with other former Yugoslav countries, such as the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia.

The feeling of relief comes against the backdrop of worsening political and economic climate in the region, with the EU having organised last week a high-level conference in Sarajevo in order to boost Balkan confidence in the enlargement process.

Back in Ljubljana, Prime Minister Borut Pahor hailed the "historic decision" and the "big success" for his country, after being pressured by the opposition to organise a referendum on the border deal. A No-vote would have probably led to the collapse of his coalition government and damaged Ljubljana's credentials as a responsible EU player.

The government in Zagreb also expressed its enthusiasm at the outcome of the vote, with Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor announcing on national television station she foresaw no further Slovenian action to bar Zagreb's path towards joining the EU.

"There will be no more roadblocks. Dialogue certainly continues. With this agreement ... we separated Croatia's [EU] talks from solving the border issue," she said.

In EUobserver's latest video talk show Liberal MEP Jelko Kacin and Conservative deputy Charles Tannock look at the EU enlargement process in the Balkan countries.

Analysis

Serbia and the convenient spy

The manufactured cold war between Croatia and Serbia has been a convenient distraction from some of Serbia's domestic problems.

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

News in Brief

  1. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  2. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  3. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  4. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  5. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  6. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  7. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe
  8. French ex-minister jailed for tax fraud

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to use Bioenergy Coming from Forests in a Sustainable Way ?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First