The Letter

Yesterday Slovenian parliamentary committees for foreign relations and European matters voted in favour of lifting the blockade of Croatian EU negotiations. In a joint session which lasted for several hours PM Borut Pahor explained the details and the mechanics of the deal he made last Friday with Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor.

As you know, at the centre of things is a letter PM Kosor sent from Pahor’s office to Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt.There were conflicting accounts as to what was written in that letter, especially with relation to the exact wording and the effect it will have on past attempts to settle the dispute, most notably the Drnovšek-Račan agreement. Yesterday PM Pahor’s office finally released the original letter and put a stop to speculations. It is clear now. The Pahor-Kosor agreement nullifies any prievous agreements as well as unilateral actions. Therefore, there is no more Drnovšek-Račan agreement.

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The important bit of the letter with the wording “documents or actions taken unilaterally” (source)

Things, however, were happening at lightning speed. Just as Kosor’s letter hit the mailboxes and caused a modest-to-severe elevation of some people’s blood pressue, a press release by Croatian foreign ministry was published (Croatian only), saying that the bottom line of the agreement indeed is that the dispute will be solved along the lines of what EU Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn proposed just before Croatia walked out of negotiations.

And last night I stumbled across Swedish PM’s reply to Jadranka Kosor (again, Croatian only), where he informs her that a special accession conference will be hels as soon as 2 October, because Slovenia informed the presidency that it has no more border-related reservations against negotiations with Croatia. Furthermore, PM Reinfeldt wrote that it is understood that the dispute will either be solved by arbitrage or by direct negotiations. And finally – and this is the most important bit – he writes that both letters (Kosor’s original letter and Reinfeldt’s reply) will become an integral part of accession documents.

Reinfeldt’s letter is of astronomical importance. It clearly states that the only way a deal will be reached is either by arbitrage or direct negotiations, which means that the International Court in the Hague (which was Croatia’s favourite venue of solving the dispute) is off the table. It was widely held that this particular court would have ruled completely in favour of Croatia, because it has little history of coming with outside-of-the-box solutions, which is clearly needed in this case. And secondly. By becoming an integral part of the negotiation documentation, both letters will also become part of the accession treaty, just as the Croatian maritime documents which started this whole thing.

So what we now have are established broad rules of the game which are not inherently bad for Slovenia nor are they inherently good for Croatia. And that is good. It is now becoming clear that both sides conceded a lot in the last few months, ehich is why the deal doesn’t seem so raw any more.

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

13 thoughts on “The Letter”

  1. I used to work a bit in tourism, and I can tell you, joint programs have been commonplace in tourism for a long while now. You can hardly tell tourists comming from half a world away that no, we won’t take you to Plitvice or Dubrovnik because we don’t like Croats and vice versa.

  2. 🙂 It’s just that I think Croatia does belong in the EU. (To be quite honest: if Rumania and Bolgaria can…)

    The other thing is: as I live near the ex-border with France I do spend some time there as a tourist. It is a lovely feeling to be able to simply drive there, it is nice to see both regions making joint efforts to attract tourists (I did check some facts about the history of the region and I’d say the EU-present looks even more promising if seen in the light of the strenuous past… Someone told me Americans call Schäferhunde Alsatians because they were so angry at the German behaviour in this part of the world…)

    And it is not only tourism… I think underneath all those power games between SLO and CRO there’s also some love for each other. It would be really clever if we did things together.

  3. My only question is: what’s that squiggle that is supposed to pass as Jadranka Kosor’s signature (on the pdf of her letter)? Can we be sure she even signed it? She gets failing marks for penmanship.

  4. @Mr. P: While I agree with most of your text, (possibly due to exhaustion on account of a lecture on financial statements) I fail to see how the scanned bit of the letter automatically nullifies the Drnovšek-Račan agreement for the purposes of either arbitration or bilateral negotiations. Please explain?

  5. @dr. fil: to qoute : “no document or action undertaken unilaterally by either side after that date [25/6/91] shall be accorded legal significance for the tasks of any arbitrary tribunal or any other procedure for the settlement of the border dispute

    Documents or unilateral actions. Which of course means Drnovšek – Račan as well…

  6. I understand what you mean, but considering the general (poor) level of English in this document and in line with the spirit of the entire letter, I assume (possibly erroneously), that unilateral was meant to refer to both actions and documents.

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