Croatia Conditionally Accepts E.U. Mediation

Monday, Croatia conditionally accepted a European Union proposal to mediate in its border dispute with Slovenia if the mediation led to an agreement on transferring the issue to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), media reports say.

A statement issued following the meeting of Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and President Stjepan Mesic with representatives of parliamentary parties said Zagreb welcomed and accepted the initiative moved by the E.U. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

The statement said the mediation group led by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari, a former president of Finland, should help the two countries formulate an agreement on presenting their border dispute to the ICJ and to facilitate their efforts to draft proposals for solving other issues, including regimes of navigation and fishing in the Adriatic.

The statement added that Croatia was intent on achieving its goal of the E.U. membership and expected “the immediate unblocking of its accession negotiations.”

The European Commission proposed the mediation after Croatia’s E.U. accession talks were brought to a standstill in December due to Slovenia’s reservations on some chapters in which Croatia submitted documents that Slovenia deemed prejudged the course of the disputed border.

However, Slovenia, which already backed the E.U. mediation in principle February 26, opposed taking the border issue to the ICJ unless the court used the equity principle (ex equo et bono) in coming to a decision.

In effect, it means the court can include any kind of circumstances, even if the valid international law does not (like historical facts), to reach a fairer verdict.

The foreign ministers of Croatia and Slovenia will hold a meeting with the European Union Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, in Brussels Tuesday, on the E.U. proposal for mediation into the Croatian-Slovene border dispute and a possibility for Slovenia to lift its blockade on Croatia’s E.U. membership talks.

Slovenia, which joined the E.U. in 2004, has not been able to finalize its land-and-sea borders with Croatia, its fellow former Yugoslav republic, since both declared independence in 1991.

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