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Juncker Throws Cold Water on Piran Bay Dispute

European Commission chief tells Zagreb and Ljubljana the EU wants no part of the long-running border squabble.

8 February 2018

Croatia’s intractable maritime border dispute with neighbor and fellow EU member Slovenia featured in Tuesday’s European Parliament debate on the future of Europe.

 

Border disputes must be resolved,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic. “There can’t be any enlargement without border disputes being resolved.”

 

“These problems must be resolved or there won’t be any accession,” Juncker added, perhaps thinking of other Balkan trans-border quarrels such as the Macedonian name issue or Kosovo’s internal opposition to the recent border agreement with Montenegro.

 

The dispute over maritime rights in the Bay of Piran at the northern tip of the Adriatic looked to have been resolved when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year granted Slovenia a corridor through Croatian waters. Zagreb refuses to abide by the decision, EurActiv writes, arguing that Slovenia meddled with the arbitration process.

 

The Bay of Piran. Image by AnonMoos derivative work: Themightyquill/Wikipedia.

 

Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec expressed surprise at Juncker’s saying in the European Parliament that the Piran Bay dispute was only a bilateral issue, saying it was “actually a problem of the European Union and the rule of law,” Total Croatia News reports.

 

Also this week, Athens welcomed a concession by Macedonia that raised hopes for a resolution to their much more serious quarrel, which has seen Greece blocking its neighbor’s bids to join NATO and the EU.

 

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the country was willing to change its name to assuage Greece’s fears of territorial claims over its northern Macedonia region, the Guardian reports.

 

Zaev earlier announced that Skopje’s airport and the main highway to Greece would no longer be named after Alexander “the Great” of Macedon, the ancient conqueror both countries claim as a national hero.

 

 

  • Croatian authorities fined 11 Slovenian fishermen for violating border rules last week, saying they were only replying in kind to the other side’s issuance of at least a dozen fines on fisherman in the waters of Piran Bay, or Savudrija Bay as it is known in Croatia.

 

  • Upper Macedonia, New Macedonia, Northern Macedonia, and Macedonia (Skopje) are among the names being considered for Macedonia, the Guardian cites diplomats as saying.

 

  • Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport will now be known as Skopje International, and Alexander the Great highway will become the Friendship Highway.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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