Will Slovenia Lift EU Blockade of Croatia?

According to Croatian weekly Nacional, Slovenia and Croatia have reached a compromise solution regarding the disputed Croatian documentation which precipitated Slovenian blockade of Croatian EU entry negotiation.

Prime Ministers Pahor and Kosor last Friday. Notice how his tie matches her dress (source)

The magazine reports (Croatian only) that an agreement has been reached (or is very close to being reached) during last Friday’s meeting between the newly minted Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor and her Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor.

If the report is correct (neither Zagreb nor Ljubljana were willing to comment on it) it would mean that Croatia shifted from its position that documents as such do not predefine the non-existent maritime border between two countries, which it was willing to confirm in a separate protocol. Slovenia, however, claimed that documents do indeed predefine the maritime border and promptly demanded that Croatia withdraws the documents, but then quickly ammended its position, saying that it will not lift the blockade of Croatian negotiations until a border agreement has been reached. According to the magazine, Zagreb agreed to withrdaw all offending documents while Slovenia agreed to lift the blockade immediately after the withdrawal.

As you know, all hell broke loose after Slovenia instituted the blocase, especially when we were close to (and yet, it turned out, far away from) holding a referendum on Croatian NATO entry. At that time pengovsky speculated that although the push to solve the border question at this time might have been a good idea, there lurked a danger of Slovenia trying to overdo it and humiliate Croatia while the latter is in danger of totally losing touch with reality, since it was used to playing tables against Slovenia. It seems that this scenario more or less unfolded as predicted, which precipitated the second boiing point:

The sudden and unexpected resignation of Ivo Sanader from the post of Croatian PM was never fully explained. The closest he came to an explanation was saying that he couldn’t deny that European issues played a part in his resignation. At that time pengovsky wrote that it is possible, that Sanader was removed in a in-party coup after it became apparent that his hard-line rhetoric against Slovenia brought Croatia in a pretty bad fix, which he couldn’t lead her out of. Not without totally losing face. But another view prevailed: namely, that there had indeed been a party coup, but from the other end. That it was the true right-wing hardliners and anti-EU politician which had forced him to resign, because he was too pro European.

But if Nacional’s report is correct, than pengovsky’s original thesis seems plausible, since the first thing the new government in Zagreb did was offer a compromise, which – apparently – the government in Ljubljana is only too willing to accept. After all, removing the documents was what Slovenia demanded originally. Such an agreement would dramatically reduce tensions between the two countries and (best of all) would not have to be ratified in both countries’ parliamanets as it would not be an international agreement but rather just a policy change It would also postpone the border issue indefinitely, probably making it far less important once both countries are EU members. Which is good and that is why pengovsky hopes that the report is correct.

If the deal had been reached (and again, this is by no means certain) then this is the second big foreign policy scoop for Borut Pahor’s government (the first one was when he presudaded Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi not to include Slovenian minority in Italy in his 2009 budget cut). The only question is, whether PM Pahor and foreign minister Samuel Žbogar meant to play it like that or were they just lucky…

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