Croatia conditionally accepts EU mediation in border dispute with Slovenia
Croatia accepted on Monday the initiative of the European Union to provide mediation in the border dispute with Slovenia, but under the condition that the mediation leads to an agreement on transferring the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.
"Croatia welcomes and accepts the initiative moved by the EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn," said a statement published in the Croatian capital Zagreb after the meeting of Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and President Stjepan Mesic with representatives of parliamentary parties.
According to the statement, the mediation group led by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, should help the two countries to formulate an agreement on presenting their border dispute before the ICJ and to facilitate their efforts to draft proposals for solving other issues, including regimes of navigation and fisheries in the Adriatic, Xinhua reported.
It said that Croatia is resolute to accomplish its goal of the EU membership and expects "the immediate unblocking of its accession negotiations."
The European Commission proposed the mediation after Croatia's EU accession talks were brought to a standstill in December due to Slovenia's reservations on some chapters in which Croatia submitted documents that Slovenia deems prejudge the course of the disputed border.
Rehn said last week he expected positive answers from both countries that would not involve any impossible conditions which would eventually lead to a rejection of the mediation initiative.
Sander told the press on Monday that Croatia's statement did not contain such "impossible conditions."
He said Croatia's task now was to consider with the European Commission the mandate of the mediation group.
"We should now, first of all, consider with the EC the mandate of the group, as we accept it (the Ahtisaari Group) with the aim to go before the International Court of Justice so as to solve this long-standing border dispute," he said.
The Croatian and Slovene Foreign Ministers, Gordan Jandrokovic and Samuel Zbogar respectively, will on Tuesday hold a meeting with the European Union Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn in Brussels, on the EU proposal for mediation into the Croatian- Slovene border dispute and a possibility for Slovenia to lift its blockade on Croatia's EU membership talks.
Slovenia already backed the EU mediation in principle on Feb. 26.
Slovenia has opposed taking the border issue to the ICJ unless the court uses the equity principle (ex equo et bono) in coming to a decision. This means the court can include any kind of circumstances, even if the valid international law does not (like historical facts), in order to reach a fairer verdict.
Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004, has not been able to finalize its land and sea borders with Croatia, its fellow former Yugoslav republic, since both declared independence in 1991.