|At an informal meeting in Otočec today, the President of the Republic of Slovenia Dr Danilo Türk and the President of the Republic of Croatia Mr Stjepan Mesić called for cooperation and dialogue between their two countries and invited the two governments to build on last year’s achievements in terms of finding solutions to unresolved issues. As the Slovenian President stressed at the press conference following the meeting, relations between the two countries should be approached “with responsibility and respect”, adding, “Sadly, in recent days, we have heard some unfortunate references to ‘breaking off relations’, the ‘risk of disaster’ and expressions of other concepts that do not have a part in the dialogue between us.” Dr Türk emphasised that all unresolved issues should be dealt with through dialogue which took account of the specific nature of the problem. According to the Slovenian President, the issues of the Croatian Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone are not primarily bilateral issues but concern the whole European Union and should thus be resolved in Brussels. Dr Turk mentioned that both Presidents welcomed the initiatives of European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn leading to meetings between all interested States and the European Commission and potentially helping to find solutions.
The two Presidents further assessed, among other things, that their respective Governments have made significant efforts on outstanding bilateral issues such as mutual borders, the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, and savings accounts with the former Ljubljanska banka. Such efforts should be continued and a plan perhaps drawn up on how to do so. Dr Türk considered there had indeed been progress on the border issue, saying that “an important principled position had been reached to the effect that, in the matter of the precise determination of the border both on land and at sea, help should be sought from a third party, which at this stage should be defined in the form of an agreement on a method of resolving the issue.”
Dr Türk pointed out the importance of Slovenia’s interest in Croatia’s joining the EU and also expressed Slovenia’s readiness to help Zagreb in this respect. As to the Slovenian Presidency of the EU, he stressed that Slovenia’s role is to “head the Presidency in a responsible manner, which takes into consideration the interests of all EU Member States and candidate countries.”
Both Presidents expressed their belief that the Governments and Ministers of their respective countries would take up this reconciliatory attitude. “We have pointed the way and I hope that our Governments and Ministers will continue along this path,” stressed the President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Stjepan Mesić.
After the informal meeting at Otočec, the Presidents participated in the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Slovenian-Croatian Friendship Society, where they addressed the large audience that had gathered for the celebration.