Coat of arms Office of the President of the Republic > Press centre

Statement by the President of Slovenia on yesterday's incident at the Slovene-Croatian border

Ljubljana, 09/23/2004  |  statement

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Janez Drnovšek, expects Croatian authorities to apologise for their actions in yesterday’s incident. The incident occurred in the disputed border area where Croatian authorities ought to act with appropriate flexibility, taking into account that the border has not been finally determined and confirmed by both sides. This applies in particular when permanent inhabitants of the border area -– or their visitors – are involved.

The Plovanja border crossing is a provisional one. Its construction, started by Croatia in 1994, resulted in protests by the Slovene government. At that time, Croatia’s prime minister sent an official letter to Slovenia’s prime minister, with the assurance that Croatia did not mean to prejudice the final border solution with it and that it was only a temporary solution.

In all the discussions held between Slovenia and Croatia since 1991, the area of the last 7 km has been treated as disputed. Recently, Croatian politicians have been making statements that the land border was laid down through the position of the Badinter Commission. This is not true, because in individual sections of the land border the exercise of sovereignty was disputed at the time of independence – some elements were implemented by the Slovene side and other by the Croatian side. An agreement on these sections at issue should be reached through bilateral negotiations. We did this in 2001, but the Croatian side then withdrew from the agreement that had already been approved by both governments.

Lately the Croatian side has been trying to create an impression that the land border is already determined. They have taken from the Drnovšek-Račan agreement what suits them and rejected the rest. But the agreement was a compromise and cannot be divided – it is a "take it or leave it" agreement. The border on the land applies solely in conjunction with the sea border, or else neither of the two applies. Prior to this, Croatia also wanted to predetermine the sea border by its unilateral declaration of a fishing and ecological zone. Statements by Croatian politicians about the final delimitation in disputed areas escalated over recent weeks before the elections in Slovenia, when it must have been obvious that such unilateral delimitation would provoke Slovene political parties and that incidents like the one yesterday would occur.

Slovenia wishes to have the best possible friendly relations with neighbouring Croatia. However, these relations can only be based on a correct, veracious and open approach. President Drnovšek calls upon the Slovene political parties and the government to calm the situation, to respond in a European manner and not to allow themselves to be provoked by similar incidents.