Pengovsky obviously was not the only one scrathing his had and going “asphinchtersayswhat?” after PMs Pahor and Kosor struck their deal on Friday. Neglecting for the moment the cat-calls and accusations of high treason, which predictably originanted on the more, shall we say, territorially-minded parts of Slovene political right wing (specifically, the Nationalists and SLS), a lot of questions were raised during the weekend and some of them went along the lines of my Sunday post
PM Borut Pahor on state television (source: ibidem)
Things heated up especially after Croatia hailed the agreemet as a triumph of their diplomacy and started selling it by saying that “Slovenia finally realised the error of its ways”. As you know by now, the only thing worse than a Croat saying to a Slovene that the latter is wrong, is a Croat saying that the Slovene admitted that he is wrong (it works the other way around, too). As a result, PM Borut Pahor went on live TV on Sunday, which is not your usual time for prime ministerial visits to state TV network, and explained the whole thing so that a four year old child could understand it.
Unfortunatelly, in a true Marxist manner there were no four-years-olds present, but let me try to make head and tail out of what was said:
Borut Pahor said that the key to the whole thing is the Croat concession that both sides will continue where they left off on 15 June 2009. To jogg your memory a bit, that is the date wen Croatia walked out of negotiations led by EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn. Accoring to Pahor, Rhen’s final proposal on the method of solving the dispute proposed that an ad-hoc panel of arbiters would decide the issue, keeping in mind the fact that Slovenia needs access to high seas and that the deal must be ratifired before Slovenian parliament votes on Croatian EU entry.
This is of course very much different from the text of the Pahor-Kosor agreement, where it is stipulated that the method od solving the dispute (not the solution itself) will be agreed upon until the Slovenian parliament vote. And furthermore if the solution were to include some form of direct access to high seas, then the documents which Croatia included in the negotiation process will indeed have no effect on the border question, a point which pengovsky was very anal about even on other blogs.
However… Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor also did some ‘splainin’ and she said that nothing beyond the text of her letter to the Swedish EU presidency was agreed upon. I.e.: there are no deals under the table and Rhen’s proposal was not part of the agreement.
So, confusion looms. Technically, both Pahor and Kosor can be correct. It could be that Pahor is simply connecting the dots and saying “if we do A, than B necesarily follows”. But this may turn out to be a gamble of cosmic proportions. Because if we don’t have a deal on the border by the time Croatia concludes the negotiations, or – even worse – if we don’t even have a deal on the method of forging a deal, or – worst of all, but not at all impossible – if Croatia goes bad on its word, Slovenia will be out of options and will be faced either with swallowing hard and ratifying Croatian EU entry or derailing the entire enlargement process. None of which sounds like an apetising option.
The only thing going for us right now is the fact that Croatia will be faced with two more blockades immediately after Slovenia withdraws its objections. The Netherlands is blocking negotiations on judiciary, because Croatia is not fully cooperating with the Hague Tribunal, while the UK apparently has misgivings about Croatia (not) fighting the corruption and is keeping that particular chapter shut until further notice.