Will Someone Please Shut Ivo Sanader Up? He Is Not Helping…

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The ratification process is over for us, after Greece ratified the Croatian NATO accession protocol on Tuesday night (..) NATO cannot wait to see if anyone in Slovenia would ask for a referendum and I expect the Slovene president will sign the ratification document.

Croatian PM Ivo Sanader in Ankara, Turkey, 18 February 2009

The above statement shows that Croatian PM is still painfully unaware of the fact that the only road to NATO leads through Slovenia. Croatia will not become a NATO member unless Slovenia completes the ratification procedure which – as of yesterday – looks set to include a referendum on the issue.

These are facts which cannot be avoided and Croatian PM would do a great service to his country if he would shut the fuck up and stop provoking idiots on both sides of the border. One of the (admittedly) more petty reasons for Slovene Nazi-wannabes to cook up this referendum shit is the continuous (and I mean non-stop) behaviour of consecutive Croatian governments as if Slovenia didn’t exist. I agree that grown-ups in Ljubljana should be able to brush off childish comments by Croatian PM, but by making them he is only proving the point proponents of referendum are trying to make and is making life all the more difficult for his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor, whose ruling coalition is bending over backwards to build some sort of fragile consensus which would make SSN (Party of Slovene nation, the Nazi-wannabes) withdraw the referendum proposition.

Instead of lecturing Slovenians that they are too unimportant to bother Croatia, PM Sanader would do well to restrain himself to phrases of him having “complete confidence in the ability of Slovenian voters to discern between questions of international security and bilateral issues between the two countries” or something like that.

Not that there is any guarantee that Slovenian voters will be able to discern between the two. Yesterday Slovene parliament adopted a declaration saying that Slovenia controlled all disputed border areas and that any Croatian legislation to the contrary is null and void.

Despite the seemingly hawkish text of the resolution, this has only limited value, since a) Croatian legislation is invalid in Slovenia anyway (we have our own legislation) and b) once the border is settled, there will be no disputed areas where a conflict of legislations could occur. This did not go unnoticed in Zagreb, where the foreign ministry was quick to say that the resolution has no international ramifications. Which was precisely the point. Strong wording of the resolution, however, did not yield the desired result. Marjan Podobnik did back down, saying that he was satisfied with what was achieved, but that left the SSN and its president Zdenko V. Vincenc, the formal petitioner for the referendum, who is making additional demands, saying that Slovenia should demand Croatia dismantles one of the disputed border crossings.

As I write this, PM Borut Pahor is making an 11th hour attempt at persuading Vincenc to back down. Personally, I think he has very little chance of success, but who knows, maybe Vincenc will get it into his thick nationalistic head of his that he is hurting rather than helping Slovenia with his antics. Why?

-Because the referendum would portray Slovenia as an unreliable member of NATO with little regard for international security.
-Because Slovenia will have lost credibility in blocking Croatian EU negotiations, where it does have legitimate concerns
-Because if Croatia and Albania don’t make it into NATO, then the whole NATO enlargement process is stalled at the very moment when it should actually pick up pace and start including the rest of Balkan countries
-Because if NATO does not integrate the Balkan states, war will break out again in 15 years.

EDIT: Talks between Pahor and Vincenc have collapsed, with Vincenc resigning as SSN president, citing health reasons and pressure. The referendum is still on, in line with the decision of party council. This is starting to look like a cat-and-mouse game and I’m beginning to think that someone else is running the show, with SSN acting like stooges.

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

17 thoughts on “Will Someone Please Shut Ivo Sanader Up? He Is Not Helping…”

  1. In October 2008, I was fortunate enough to attend the U.S. NATO protocols signing ceremony for Croatia and Albania held at the White House in Washington, D.C.

    NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer standing on the dais looked on as President George W. Bush signed the documentat a small writing table. Among with the 200 or so in attendance inside the elegant East Room were Members of Congress, U.S. Administration and Military Officials, as well as International Diplomats.

    It was a big deal.

    Now, I’m assuming that NATO and U.S. officials are currently not happy about the prospect of a referendum taking place in Slovenia to decide on Croatia’s accession as a full NATO member.

    For someone like me with cursory knowledege of the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute, preception matters most, and my preception is that Slovenia has not handled this affair very well.

    For one thing, it looks from my point of view that Slovenian govenment officials have acted rather clumsily, giving the impression they do not understand their own laws that permit the trigging of a public referendum, thus possibly delaying Slovenia’s official binding decision on NATO accession for Croatia.

    Secondly, my preception is that Slovenia’s border argument seems hypocritical. If the border was not a criterion for Slovenia’s entry into the EU, why is it now a criterion for Croatia’s entry? It’s the very same border, after all.

    Slovenia has every right to act in its own interest, as does Croatia, however, I would hold the Slovenian government in higher esteem today had it itself in the early 2000s insisted that the EU Commission elevate the resolution of the border question to a level equal to that of other EU accession criteria it was required to fullfill prior to its own EU membership.

  2. Frank, while seeing your points and where you’re coming from, I do have a few comments.

    Perhaps too obvious as well us unimportant, but still possibly worth bringing up is the fact that the Slovenian government in the early 2000s is not the same as the one in office now. More important is the fact that Slovenia’s land issues did play a role in its accession to the EU, though it was – as it is the case now – a matter of seeking compromise with the existent EU member states of the time who could exercise their de facto veto and did hint at that as a possibility.

    My final point is that it is not the primary function of the Slovenian government to be held in high esteem by (officials of) other countries, but to secure its country’s best interests within the framework of its legal system by upholding the rule of law. I never got the impression that Slovenia’s government officials had a poor understanding of the referendum system and actually felt this morning that the PM went out of his way trying to achieve a smooth sailing for Croatia by negotiating heavily with a person whose only claim to fame is holding the entire country’s reputation hostage by threatening to use an instrument of democracy actually quite legitimately from his point of view.

    Yes, settling issues is so much easier and quicker in an autocracy, alas, Slovenia isn’t one.

  3. The difference between democracy and non-democracy is in the form. Unfortunately it can happen that the form allows a bunch of people to take a whole nation as prisoners. But still it is democracy, you must stick to the form.
    To solve a problem you need always at least two parts – both parts. After Drnovšek-Račan it looked like the problem was solved. But than the Croatian side retreated.
    The problem with EU culminated because Croatia tried to implement its position through documents in the negotiation process that would support their case when become recognized by the EU. So its not so easy.

  4. In my opinion Sanader’s statement is directed more toward domestic audience.
    For nearly 20 years Croatians belittled Slovenia and acted as Slovenia doesn’t matter at all. They think of it just as annoying space between them and Austria and Italy. They have been told that Slovenia is only occupying their land and stealing their money. Any croatian politician who would admit that any of that is not exactly true, or even that some compromise with Slovenia has to be made, would effectively commit political suicide. Just look what happened to Račan after he proposed the agreement with Drnovšek!
    Their politicians know exactly how things are really standing, their lobbying and diplomacy offensive along Brussels’ hallways and offices is proof enough. Add to that their constant avoidance of Yugoslavia succession talks. They are actually trying to save their own as**s.
    Well, on the other hand they might be successful, i’m afraid. Just remember Romania and Bulgaria. Why do you think the EU parliament reporter for Croatia is Austrian? Their banks effectively own the land. They want them in! And there are still plenty of real estate, hotel resorts and other companies to get cheaply.

  5. Actually, a guy I know, a German having to do with Nato, was quite shocked when told Croatia and Albania are to join the organization. His main concern was the fact that you carry out joint projects there and the question “What about their mafia?”

  6. In the words of Commandant Lassard: thank you for many, many, many, many wonderful comments! 😀

    @Frank: Yes, both countries have an inherent right to protect their own interests. And and I absolutely agree that Slovenian government could have handled the thing better. They were caught with their pants down, first by the opposition, then by the unruly mob of nationalists.

    However, it is just as big a problem (as Waldo notes later in the comments) that Croatia took things for granted and when Slovenia raised objections (no matter how justified or unjustified), Croatia made all the wrong moves, something along the lines of “just who do you think you are”. A counter-productive move, for sure.

    @dr.fil: Point on not being government’s job to be held in high esteem. But it doesn’t really matter if the gov’t in 2000 was a different one than today. You can’t just say that everything that was done wrong in the past doesn’t matter because there are new kids on the block.

    @Robert Q: LOL! 😀

    @Davor: Very much to the point. I agree completely.

    @Waldo: OK, directed to domestic audience. I buy that. But in this day and age you cannot talk to your people without being heard on the other side of the border. He should have known that.

    @alcessa: Surely he meant “their armed forces…” 🙂

  7. @P: Misunderstanding alert. I said the fact that the government in the first years of the millennium was different was unimportant, but possibly worth bringing up. Neither did I say anything was done wrong in the past. The only reason I made this way side comment was – which indeed I didn’t spell out – the fact that the US where Frank the commentator comes from had basically the same government in place throughout the period in question.

  8. As a relative newcomer here in SLO, I have to wonder why this border issue has dragged on for so long. Was there anything at all being being seriously done/negotiated back in the mid 90s? If you wrote about this previously, my apologies, I haven’t stopped by in a while. A simple link will suffice. 🙂

  9. @Pirano: there are rumors in Slovenia that Norway and Sweden solved the last border problem almost 100 years after breaking (1905?), and Belgium and Holland made their border complete some years ago. So when countries we regard as highly democratic needed so long, what is going to happen in our case.
    My prediction some 15 years ago on this problem was: Croatia will solve all other problems before the problem of “Pirano bay” :))! And not that Croatia has no other problems: Ploče-Neum with Bosnia, Prevlaka – with Montenegro, some island at river Danube with Serbia only to speak about problems with water.
    Solving the problem with Slovenia in a way that is not the middle line would have effect on other issues. And all this are still open issues.
    But nobody speaks that Croatia could not enter EU before solving ALL problems, even Croatia who points out that Slovenia could enter EU without solved the problem with Croatia and now Croatia is forced to solve it before entering.
    The fact that the first mentioned countries could live together with an open problem only for so long shows that the problem is in fact a minor one. Until the politicians have it as a possibility to get voters, the problem will be shown as a huge one, some time from one side and some time from the other one, when needed. The issue will be able to be sold when nobody thinks it is a major problem.
    When you look the terrain at the northern Croatian beach from Savudrija to Plovanija you will see that there is no harbor and there are no houses looking at Piran except the weekend houses built by Slovens since 1960. In winter the wind Bora makes it not pleasant to live at the northern beach! Only weekend houses that are used mostly in summer and in last years new hotels make an exception to that rule. Historically Croats have not been using the Pirano bay at all.

  10. my wiew: i don’t get it!Why are we blocking them from entering the NATO. We should let them go in, so they can be fucked as we are!

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