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President Drnovšek's statement after his discussions with President Mesić of Croatia
Ohrid, 08/30/2003 | statement
This morning, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, and the Croatian President, Stjepan Mesić, met on the sidelines of the regional forum entitled Dialogue between Civilisations, in Ohrid. The two Presidents discussed relations between Slovenia and Croatia, in the light of recent statements on the intended proclamation of an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea.
The Slovenian President gave the following assessment of their talks:
“In our discussion, President Mesić and I touched upon the major issues connected to our mutual relations. Of course, the main focus was on the most topical issue, the possibility of Croatia’s proclamation of an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea. I explained our stand on this matter. Since its independence, Slovenia has had a clear position on this issue and the emphasis in negotiations has been Slovenia’s demand for access to international waters. I led most of the negotiations myself and this issue was always the prime subject. Last year, after more than ten years of negotiations, we arrived at a solution to this problem during inter-governmental discussions. The agreement concluded by Prime Minister Račan and myself, and confirmed by both Governments, included Slovenia’s territorial access to international waters. However, the agreement was not finalised in Croatia. Slovenia has a legitimate demand and a right to territorial access to international waters. If Croatia were to unilaterally proclaim an exclusive economic zone, which would prevent Slovenia from having access to international waters, this would prejudice the solution we have been discussing all these years. It would by-pass the border agreement and would constitute a move which would encroach on Slovenia’s national interests.
I therefore told President Mesić that such issues can only be decided by consent, as the long-term interests of both our countries are at stake. We will both continue living together in the region and beside the Adriatic. Any unilateral move would very much worsen our relations and would not be in line with the policies and principles of the European Union. Last but not least, such a move would not be in line with what we discussed at yesterday’s conference in Ohrid, on dialogue as a way of resolving problems. No unilateral move which encroaches on the interests of others is acceptable in the present-day Europe.
President Mesić and I agreed in principle that the current mood needs to be calmed and more rational discussions encouraged, in which the interests of both countries would be considered and appropriate solutions arrived at. This should involve not only Slovenia and Croatia, but also other countries along the Adriatic. There is now a pre-election atmosphere in Croatia and even sharper statements in a similar direction can be expected. However, such issues should never be the subject of pre-election competition. The responsible political figures have to ensure that these matters are resolved in a different manner.”