Miro Kovač i  Karl Erjavec.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ STA/ Nebojša TEJIČ/ ik

Croatian and Slovenian Foreign Ministers Miro Kovac and Karl Erjavec agreed in Ljubljana on Tuesday that the two countries' relations were good, in many areas even excellent, however, the positions of Zagreb and Ljubljana regarding the solution to the border dispute remain different.

Kovac reiterated Croatia's position that the arbitration process was history, adding that the unresolved border issue was only one segment in the two countries' friendly relations. "I am personally confident that step by step we can reach an acceptable bilateral solution," said Kovac during his first visit to Slovenia since stepping into office. 

He added that in the meantime Zagreb and Ljubljana should not put that issue in the focus and thus burden their good bilateral relations.

Slovenian Foreign Minister said that Ljubljana's positions on the unresolved border dispute remained unchanged.

"Slovenia sees the arbitration agreement as an international agreement that is still in effect, we expect (the arbitration process) to continue and a ruling to be handed down," Erjavec said adding that Croatia, as a member of the European Union, should honour that agreement because it was brokered under the auspices of the European Union, He underscored that Slovenia was not considering alternative solutions to the border dispute.

Talking to the press after their meeting, Kovac said he as confident the two countries could reach a solution acceptable to both, saying that the arbitration issue must not cast a shadow on good communication and cooperation between the two governments and friendly relations between the two countries' state officials and the two peoples.

Kovac declined to answer what kind of a solution Croatia will propose to Slovenia to resume the process after Croatia's decision to leave the arbitration procedure. He recalled that other EU countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, did not have their border issues resolved in detail, but still cooperate at all levels, as is the case with Croatia and Slovenia.

Erjavec said the border dispute was one of the topics discussed at the talks, adding however that no progress was made, given the two countries' different positions. He reiterated Slovenia was not considering alternative solutions to the border dispute.

Asked when one can expect the removal of the fence which Slovenia set up along its border with Croatia last autumn in the midst of the migrant crisis so as to prevent the uncontrolled influx of migrants, Erjavec said the Slovenian government would make that decision after a thorough analysis. He also said Slovenia must see how the deal between the EU and Turkey will function.

During his visit to Slovenia, Kovac also held talks with Slovenian President Borut Pahor and opposition MPs. He also spoke with representative of the Croat community in Slovenia.

Asked about the position of 50,000 Slovenian Croats, Erjavec said their status would be resolved together with the status of other peoples from the former Yugoslavia. He however, ruled out the possibility of recognising Croats as an ethnic minority by the Constitution like the Italians or the Hungarians which Slovenia considers autochthonous population.

The Croatian and the Slovenian foreign minister condemned the terrorist attack which took place earlier today in Brussels. Erjavec confirmed a Slovenian diplomat was injured in the attack, adding however that his injuries were not life-threatening.

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