The visiting Slovenian President, Natasa Pirc-Musar, on Wednesday called on the Croatian and Slovenian governments to start resolving the border arbitration issue, and agreed with her host and Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanovic that this dispute would not affect the future excellent cooperation.
This was Pirc-Musar’s first visit to Zagreb after she recently took office.
Milanovic said Pirc-Musar is “always welcome in Croatia” and that their first meeting was only “a prelude to a series of such talks”.
The two presidents mostly talked about the Brdo-Brijuni process, but they also addressed the issue of arbitration on the border between the two countries.
The Slovenian president would be “sloppy at her job had she not mentioned it,” Milanovic said.
In 2015, by a unanimous decision of parliament, Croatia withdrew from the arbitration process because it considered the process compromised after it was established that the Slovenian side had influenced certain judges, and therefore Zagreb does not accept the arbitration verdict from 2017.
Pirc-Musar stressed that the issue cannot be resolved by the presidents, calling on the governments in Ljubljana and Zagreb to sit down and return to dialogue. She emphasized Slovenia still considered the arbitration verdict valid.
“From this position, today I am appealing to the Slovenian and Croatian sides to start resolving this outstanding issue through dialogue,” she pointed out.
Milanovic added that “our positions are not the same, but they are not conflicting either, we will talk.” He stressed the two countries’ relations are excellent and are only getting better with years.
Pirc-Musar stepped into office after two terms in office served by Borut Pahor, the leader who initiated the Brdo-Brijuni process, aimed at speeding up the EU membership journey of Western Balkan countries.
Pahor’s successor said she wants to continue that process, expressing confidence that the talks among Western Balkan politicians can only bring good to the region.
The Slovenian president previously said she did not want meetings to be held only once a year and suggested that commitments be made so that the Western Balkans could become part of the European Union as soon as possible.
She also urged the participants in those meetings to talk more about young people who are leaving the Western Balkans in large numbers, and less about ideological disagreements. The Brdo-Brijuni Process summits have been held since 2013, at the initiative of Zagreb and Ljubljana.
Milanovic welcomed Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU candidate status and the fact that everyone in the the national parliament voted for it, including representatives of the Republika Srpska.
“It is often difficult for me to understand what (President of the RS) Milorad Dodik is thinking,” Milanovic said in this context.
The next meeting of the initiative will be held in North Macedonia, and Milanovic expressed hope the gathering will not end like the last two times when no joint declaration was adopted.