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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

07.05.09: Croatia, Slovenia edge closer to solving border dispute - 0 views

  • Slovenia yesterday (6 May) welcomed Croatia's decision the previous day to accept Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn's proposal for solving the border dispute between the two countries, which had frozen Zagreb's accession negotiations and become an irritant for the EU.
  • Background: During the French EU Presidency, Slovenia blocked the opening of nine out of ten negotiating chapters with Zagreb due to an unresolved border dispute (EurActiv 18/12/08).  The succeeding Czech Presidency has also failed to make any progress in the negotiations so far. Indeed, the EU recently postponed an accession conference after the two countries had failed show any signs of conciliation (EurActiv 24/04/09).  Diplomats have serious doubts about Croatia's ability to wrap up accession talks by the end of the year (so as to be ready to join the bloc in 2010) if the bilateral dispute is not resolved soon (see EurActiv LinksDossier on 'EU-Croatia' relations).  The border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia concerns small pockets of land along the Adriatic coast, which could prove important if accompanied by exclusive access rights to deep-sea zones. Unlike Slovenia, Croatia has a long coastline, prompting Ljubljana to attempt to assert its rights as a "geographically disadvantaged state". 
  • Slovenia welcomed the Croatian government's positive response to Rehn's plan, Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar told the press hours later.  "We welcome today's [...] response. It will enable the resumption of talks," Zbogar told the press. He added that Slovenia would comments on the proposal after internal consultation. The minister declined to comment on media reports that Rehn's proposal was not in his country's interest, but made it plain that Slovenia would table amendments to the text.  Zbogar also disagreed with Croatian President Mesic's statement that the Rehn proposal was a "take it or leave it" offer. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.02.09: Croatia advised to 'morally dominate' conflict with Slovenia - 0 views

  • Talks between Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor and his Croatian counterpart Ivo Sanader held yesterday (24 February) in the Slovenian town of Mokrice failed to achieve tangible results, media from the two countries reported.  Until there is progress in solving the border dispute, Slovenia will continue to block Croatia's EU accession negotiations, Pahor reportedly said.  The two countries did not even agree on a framework for dealing with the conflict. Slovenia supports EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn's preference for Brussels mediation, while Croatia maintains that the border issue should be solved before an international court. However, that option could take several years, while Zagreb wants to join the Union in 2010. 
  • During the French EU Presidency, Slovenia blocked the opening of nine out of ten negotiating chapters with Zagreb due to an unresolved border dispute (EurActiv 18/12/08). Diplomats believe serious doubts will surround Croatia's objective of wrapping up accession talks by the end of the year (so as to be ready to join the bloc in 2010) if the bilateral dispute is not resolved soon (see EurActiv LinksDossier on EU-Croatia relations).  The border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia concerns small pockets of land along the Adriatic coast, which could prove important if accompanied by exclusive rights to deep sea zones. Unlike Slovenia, Croatia has a long coastline, prompting Ljubljana to attempt to assert its rights as a "geographically disadvantaged state". 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.12.08: Slovenia to block Croatia EU accession talks - 0 views

  • Slovenia said on Wednesday (17 December) it would block further accession talks with EU candidate Croatia due to a long-running border dispute between the two countries. Zagreb was hoping to open 10 new chapters of its accession negotiations package with the EU and close another five during an intergovernmental conference on Friday (19 December) in Brussels.
  • But speaking ahead of the meeting, Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor said his country had reservations, arguing that documents – notably maps – Croatia had provided during its accession process could prejudge a solution of their long-running border dispute. "Slovenia has reservations concerning seven chapters, since the documents presented by Croatia could prejudge the common border," Mr Pahor told journalists in Ljubljana. "And concerning another four chapters, we also have substantial reservations," he said, adding that Slovenia would at this stage "only give its consent to open one chapter and close three."
  • The two states have been fighting over their common border since they broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
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  • For its part, Croatia strongly criticised the "unprecedented" decision by Slovenia. "Croatia isn't and won't be ready nor will it ever accept blackmail and exclusivism, which have no place in the EU... We won't buy our membership of the EU with territory. This is our firm position and our friends in Slovenia must know this," Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told journalists in Zagreb, Croatian news agency Hina reported.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.05.09: Slovenia snubs EU, continues to block Croatian accession - 0 views

  • GA_googleCreateDomIframe('google_ads_div_nexttocontent' ,'nexttocontent'); GA_googleFillSlot("nexttocontent120x"); GA_googleCreateDomIframe('google_ads_div_nexttocontent120x' ,'nexttocontent120x'); Ljubljana - Slovenia's politicians - the ruling bloc, the opposition and the president - have found a rare occasion to stand united, with everyone stubbornly backing the decision to block the path of neighbouring Croatia into the European Union - despite Brussels' wishes. In a perennial row over where their common sea border meets the Adriatic coast, Slovenia - an EU member since 2004 - has stalled Croatia, which hopes to join in 2011. Most recently, Ljubljana effectively dismissed a proposal by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn to resolve the stalemate by having international arbitration draw up the contested border. Croatia had already agreed to the proposal, but the Slovenian response - though wrapped prettily in diplomatic language - was effectively "no." Slovenia asked for amendments that were flatly rejected not only by Croatia but by the plan's author as well.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

20.02.09: Brussels ups pressure over Slovenia-Croatia dispute - 0 views

  • Slovenia and Croatia should work on finding a solution to their year-long border dispute if Zagreb's EU membership negotiations are to stand a chance of making progress during an EU-Croatia meeting next month, the EU enlargement commissioner has said. "It is important that in the next accession conference which is planned for March ... [it is possible] to open, maybe close, but at least open a number of chapters, so that the dynamic of the negotiations will be kept on," commissioner Olli Rehn said at a press conference in Brussels on Friday (20 February).
  • Slovenia and Croatia have been unable to agree on their common land and sea border since they both seceded from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. But a patch of the Adriatic Sea close to the Slovenian city of Piran, which Slovenia says would secure its ships direct access to international waters, is a particularly thorny issue that caused Ljubljana to block the opening or closing of 11 chapters of Croatia's 35-chapter package in December. "It is important that we find a solution that could help solve the border issue and would allow Croatia's EU accession negotiations to continue according to the negotiating framework," Mr Rehn said.
  • Croatia – an EU candidate since 2004 – is hoping to conclude EU accession talks by the end of this year, so that it can join the bloc by 2011. "Concluding the accession negotiations by the end of this year is a tall order," Mr Rehn told EUobserver. "If we can find a way forward on the border issue, and if Croatia works very intensively on the reforms, then the target date is within reach. But every day increases the risk that the timetable will slip," he warned. The Slovenia–Croatia blockage is the latest in a line of disputes blocking EU candidate countries. But commissioner Rehn denied this being a sign that new – political – criteria are being added during the accession talks with candidate or potential candidate countries.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.05.09: New talks bring no progress on Slovenia-Croatia border dispute - 0 views

  • Yet another round of talks on the longstanding border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia failed on Wednesday (27 May) increasing the pressure on Zagreb's EU membership timetable. It was the first meeting between EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn and the foreign ministers of Slovenia and Croatia since the two countries presented their responses to the latest Brussels proposal aimed at solving the bilateral quarrel.
  • The 18-year-old border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia reached a turning point in December when Slovenia blocked Croatia's EU accession talks over the issue. The blockage prompted Mr Rehn to intervene and suggest a mediation proposal to help break the deadlock. In the latest version of his proposal, the commissioner suggested the countries should solve their dispute via a five-member international arbitration tribunal that would operate in line with international law – a point Croatia has been strongly pushing for.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.09.09: Slovenia, Croatia Reach Deal on Border, EU Talks - 0 views

  • Slovenia said Friday it was ready to lift its veto on neighbour Croatia's European Union accession talks immediately, after the two prime ministers agreed on how to solve an 18-year old border dispute."The government will immediately propose (to parliamentary committees) that Slovenia removes restraints for Croatia's EU negotiating process," Slovenia's Prime Minister Borut Pahor said after talks with his Croat counterpart Jadranka Kosor.The two committees met later Friday but said they needed more time to consider the issue. They are expected to decide on whether to allow Slovenia to lift the veto early next week.The news comes as a boost to Zagreb -- whose EU bid has been on ice for almost 10 months -- and other EU hopefuls in the Western Balkans, where bilateral disputes abound.Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU, welcomed the agreement and said Croatia can now continue EU accession talks.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.06.09: Croatia's EU talks to resume after long dispute - 0 views

  • Slovenia is expected to unblock Croatia's EU accession talks at a ministerial meeting today (15 June). The two countries have clashed for several months over disputed territories on the Adriatic coast.
  • Background: During the French EU Presidency, Slovenia blocked the opening of nine out of ten negotiating chapters with Zagreb due to an unresolved border dispute (EurActiv 18/12/08).  The Czech Presidency has so far failed to make any progress in the negotiations. Indeed, the EU recently postponed an accession conference after the two countries had failed to show any sign of conciliation (EurActiv 24/04/09).  Diplomats have serious doubts about the viability of Croatia's objective of wrapping up accession talks by the end of the year (so as to be ready to join the bloc in 2010) if the bilateral dispute is not resolved soon (see EurActiv LinksDossier on 'EU-Croatia' relations).  The border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia concerns small pockets of land along the Adriatic coast, which could prove important if accompanied by exclusive access rights to deep-sea zones. 
  • However, this may not be the end of the region's problems, as similar obstacles are expected to emerge in the Western Balkan accession process as a whole, diplomats told EurActiv.  EU diplomats said the lack of a clearly defined border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina could soon create problems "one hundred times worse" than the current dispute between Ljubljana and Zagreb, in which the European Commission has invested a huge mediation effort. 
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  • The Netherlands and Belgium are blocking the ratification of the EU's Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia as long as Mladic is at large. Diplomats say that imposing such conditions makes it difficult for the reformist government in Belgrade to withstand the surge of nationalist and anti-European forces. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.01.09: EU proposes mediation group to solve Croatia-Slovenia dispute - 0 views

  • The European Commission has suggested forming a special group to help solve the lengthy Croatia–Slovenia border dispute and Finnish former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari could be the person chairing it. "Commissioner Rehn has discussed with President Martti Ahtisaari and explored whether he would be available to chair a senior expert group in order to facilitate a solution on the border issue between Slovenia and Croatia," Krisztina Nagy, spokesperson for EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn, told journalists on Friday (23 January).
  • Croatia on Thursday spoke out in favour of the move, with Prime Minister Ivo Sanader "hailing" the European Commission's proposal. "Such an initiative to move away from a frozen position and blocked Croatian [EU] talks is certainly welcomed," he was quoted as saying by Croatian news agency HINA. Slovenia, however, has had a more cautious reaction. "It is too early to say" whether Ljubljana supports the proposal, the country's foreign minister Samuel Zbogar said, according to Slovenian news agency STA.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.06.09: Croatia, Slovenia dash hopes for quick end to dispute | EU - European Information on Enlargement & Neighbours - 0 views

  • Slovenia and Croatia yesterday (18 June) shattered hopes that a long-standing border dispute was coming an end, blaming each other for the deadlock and leaving Brussels to deplore the development.
  • The European Commission said it regretted that Croatia and Slovenia had failed to make progress in talks on the settlement of their border row, underlining that it was a bilateral issue.  The talks had progressed well since January and there remained only a limited number of points to be settled, but the two sides yesterday failed to make progress on those points, says a brief statement issued by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn’s office. Rehn will now report to the current Czech and future Swedish EU Presidencies, it adds. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.01.09: Slovenia waves referendum card at Croatia - 0 views

  • Slovenia may call for a referendum over Croatia's accession to the European Union if a long-standing border dispute between the two countries is not quickly resolved to Ljubljana's satisfaction.
  • Slovenian Foreign Affairs Minister Samuel Zbogar stated that if talks over the border dispute are not resolved in his country's interest, it would be "quite realistic" to expect a popular referendum on ratification of Croatia's accession treaty to the Union, the Croatian daily Jutarni List reported yesterday (7 January). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.02.09: EU mediation needed in border dispute, Slovenia says - 0 views

  • An EU mediation group is the only solution to the border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia, Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor has said.
  • Slovenia and Croatia have been unable to agree on their common land and sea border since they both seceded from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Particularly thorny is a patch of the Adriatic Sea close to the Slovenian city of Piran that would secure Slovenian ships direct access to international waters. In December, Ljubljana blocked the opening or closing of 11 chapters of Croatia's 35-chapter EU accession negotiations package over the issue.
  • But the process of Croatia becoming a full EU member is unlikely to be completed before a final solution to the border dispute is found, Slovenia's premier underlined. "If political parties represented in the house [the Slovenian parliament], or the civil society, or everybody else, would have the feeling that things are not going in the right direction, I'm very pessimistic that at the end of the day the house will vote in favour of Croatia's full EU membership if the [border] problem would not be solved," Mr Pahor said. "The best option would be to solve the problem [before]," he added. In addition, Croatia still has open border issues with neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia – which also aspire to become EU members in the long term – "and it will be very difficult to find a solution" to these disputes if the one with Ljubljana is not settled first, the Slovenian premier noted.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.01.08: Croatian Fishing Law Hits a Snag - 0 views

  • Zagreb has taken steps to protect its coastal waters. Its neighbors and Brussels aren't happy.
  • Last week, the EU presidency, currently held by Slovenia, warned that Croatia could jeopardize ongoing negotiations on membership. Officials in Zagreb, however, dismiss suggestions that their efforts to protect marine resources could damage ongoing talks with Brussels.
  • Croatia's Protected Ecological Fishery Zone has been in effect for several years but only applied to EU states on 1 January. Neighboring Slovenia and Italy are most affected by the zone. Slovenia – which took over the rotating EU presidency on the same day, and which has clashed with Croatia on several occasions over disputed land and sea borders – contends that the zone infringes on its own water boundaries, while Italy argues it will hurt its substantial fishing industry.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.12.09: Slovenia still holding back Croatia on EU path - 1 views

  • Croatia on Monday (21 December) closed two more negotiation chapters in its bid to join the EU, but Slovenia is blocking the opening of three other areas.
  • Zagreb finalised negotiations in the areas of free movement of services and social policy. But in the meantime, Slovenia has blocked the opening of further negotiations on fisheries, environment and foreign and security policy.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.09.09: Slovenia lifts veto on Croatia's EU talks - 0 views

  • Croatia will open six and close five negotiating chapters with the EU next Friday (2 October), following a vote in the Slovenian parliament to unblock negotiations which had been put on ice over a border dispute between the two former Yugoslav republics.
  • The parliamentary committee on EU affairs in Ljubljana voted unanimously on Tuesday (29 September) in favour of lifting the veto, the Croatian news agency Hina reported.  The move follows a decision by the two countries' prime ministers, who recently said the border dispute that had poisoned their relations should not present an obstacle to proceeding with Croatia's EU accession negotiations.
  • Pahor said the draft arbitration agreement was based on a proposal for settling the dispute tabled by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, which he said mentioned Slovenia's access to the high seas. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.01.09: Croatia's timetable threatened by border dispute - 0 views

  • Croatia's on-going border dispute with Slovenia must be solved within the next few weeks or the country is unlikely to conclude EU talks by the end of the year as planned, the MEP in charge of the dossier has warned. In his report on Croatia's EU progress, approved by deputies in the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Wednesday (21 January), Austrian Socialist MEP Hannes Swoboda says that the goal of concluding negotiations in 2009 can be achieved, "provided the government of Croatia steps up its efforts to address some of the more sensitive issues linked with the accession process, including fighting organised crime and corruption." Croatia's premier, Ivo Sanader (l), and EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn (r). (Photo: European Communities, 2008) Print Comment article window.google_render_ad(); But the MEP told this website that although "in the official report we want to give a clear message that this is still possible," in reality this date is becoming increasingly "difficult to reach." "Only if the border issue is solved in the coming three to four weeks, then it is possible. Because otherwise, technically there is not enough time to deal with the issues of the chapters."
  • As of now, Croatia – an EU candidate since 2004 and aiming to become full EU member by 2011 at the latest – has opened 22 chapters of the 35 contained in its accession package, and closed seven. Referendum – an 'unacceptable' threat Recently, Slovenia also raised the threat of a referendum on Croatia's EU membership if the border issue is not solved – a move strongly criticised by the Austrian MEP. The threat is "absolutely counterproductive. Already now with the very negative or relatively negative attitude of the Slovene population – if we can believe opinion polls – I have to see [the idea] very critically," Mr Swoboda said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

08.01.08: Slovenia hopes for Kosovo solution by end of presidency - 0 views

  • Slovenia is hoping the status of the Serbian breakaway province of Kosovo will be solved by the end of its EU presidency in June, and has indicated that an outcome other than independence for the province is unlikely.
  • It is "obvious" that a solution that satisfies both parties cannot be found and "it's not possible" to force Serbs and Kosovars to live together after the way ethnic Albanians were treated during the regime of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, Mr Jansa was reported as saying by AFP. Kosovo will probably not obtain "total independence" right away though, he added.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.04.09: EU urges Slovenia and Croatia to end border dispute - 0 views

  • The EU on Monday (27 April) called on Slovenia and Croatia to accept a European Commission proposal for international arbitration in order to solve their long-standing border dispute, warning that if the quarrel drags on it could have repercussions on other countries in the region.
  • "We recall the urgency attached to this issue," Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said at a press conference following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg where Croatia's EU progress was discussed. "Many member states feel a certain sense of urgency, that the stalemate cannot last forever, that very much is at stake ... the whole strategic concept towards the Western Balkans, as well as other disputes," Mr Vondra added.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.04.09: Busek: Adaptation of EU-decision-making-system would facilitate enlargement - 0 views

  • As it continues to enlarge, the European Union needs to review its current vote weighting and abandon the veto system, Erhard Busek, special enlargement advisor to the Czech EU Presidency, told EurActiv in an interview.
  • "Personally, I'm convinced that the current voting weight repartition, as well as the lack of qualified majority vote in most of the situations, is the real background of these hesitations. It has nothing to do with region, because it's completely clear for all member states that all the Western Balkan countries should become members of the EU," Busek said.  He also expressed his personal view that in order to avoid infighting between neighbours, Western Balkan countries could more easily join the EU as a bloc. As an example, he referred to the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute (EurActiv 10/03/09), which he said should be solved by negotiations.  "My personal opinion is that […] there could be a bloc of entering countries. Because the real danger is - and we have to learn from the experience of Slovenia and Croatia - is that one country blocks the neighbouring country because of bilateral problems. It's a real nonsense and I think it's better to do it all together," Busek said. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.04.09: Time running out for Croatia's EU reforms - 0 views

  • The structural reforms Croatia still needs to carry out are more likely to hold up its EU membership bid than the current border dispute with Slovenia, a senior EU official has warned. "I would be more concerned about structural reforms [in Croatia]" than about the border dispute, Vincent Degert, head of the European Commission's delegation in Croatia told a group of journalists in Zagreb on Monday (20 April).
  • Mr Degert spoke about justice reform, as well as the need to restructure Croatia's shipyards and the agriculture sector, as some of the key areas where progress is still needed. "These are the hardcore reforms," he said, with Croatia hoping to finish membership negotiations within the next eight months and enter the EU by 2011.
  • Meanwhile, the 18-year-old dispute on the delimitation of the sea border between Slovenia and Croatia has been escalating in the last months, after Ljubljana blocked Zagreb's EU accession talks in December. The blockage is now threatening to delay the EU entry timetable targeted by Croatia. An intergovernmental EU-Croatia conference planned for the end of March was postponed and is now scheduled to take place on Friday.
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