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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

There Goes the Neighbourhood

In past decade most of Croatian foreign policy and public attention was directed towards east. 1990s unpleasantness has overshadowed all other issues, including those related to Croatian northern neighbour. However, when compared with the other former federal partners, Slovenia was model example of good neighbour, friend and trusted ally.

But that all began to change with the end of 1990s wars. Slovenia and Croatia have many serious disputes – over the fate of Krško (Krsko) nuclear power plant, Sv. Gera barracks and, last but not least, sovereignty over Piran Bay and exact borderline between two former Yugoslav republics.

The man who symbolises those unresolved issues is Jožko Joras (Josko Joras), old eccentric who owns the house in small Istrian village of Mline. Officially, Mline is on the Croatian side of border, but Joras has some other ideas and tends to express them in the ways that gained a lot of publicity. His clashes with Croatian authorities (who usually try to deal with him diplomatically) made him into some sort of hero for right-wing Slovenian nationalists and made him a candidate for Slovenian Parliament.

This afternoon small group of people, led by two Slovenian Parliament members – Janez Podobnik and Ivan Božič (Ivan Bozic) - refused to show their IDs and other documents to Croatian police during visit to Joras. Police reacted by arresting them. They apparently didn't go quietly and in the ensuing scuffle Podobnik received few blows. The group was brought to local jail where they would spend the night.

Slovenian authorities promptly reacted by recalling ambassador from Zagreb.

This incident is unlikely to develop into major international crisis, though. Sanader's government desperately needs Slovenia to lobby for quick Croatian entry in EU, while mainstream media is going to downplay it as a result of "unfortunate misunderstanding" and "few populist kooks".

But today's affair nevertheless shows that Slovenia and Croatia have potential to settle their differences through violence, just like everyone in this part of the world.

5 Comments:

Blogger crni said...

Looks like Slovenia will withdraw its support of Croatia entering the EU. The excrement has hit the fan.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Michael M. said...

I think it's an attempt to force some concessions from Zagreb more than anything else. Italy did the same thing to Slovenia during its candidacy. (See the incidents that led to the so-called "Madrid Compromise") Slovenia will repeat that formula -- "pay it forward" so to speak.

5:29 PM  
Blogger crni said...

Yup, I agree. Italy has used it's EU muscle on Slovenia and Slovenia is doing the same in turn. After all, what else are all those EU taxes good for?

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote the Croation side of the argument:
"I am not at all worried about the Slovenian prime minister's statements," [Croation PM]Sanader told national radio from the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. "It is certain that Croatia has its own path towards the EU and that is the path of recognizing and sharing the best European values," he added.

well, it seems like slovenia will be fleXing its diplomatic muscle before it lets the Croats into the EU (so I'm not sure if the Croatian PM should be so cocky).. and rightly so, if you ask me, considering all the stupid shit croatia has been doing in the dispute with slovenia...

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Croatia has border disputes with Slovenia? Hello?!? For God's sake have we not got enough on our plate in the South East with REAL issues, rather than worrying about this petty jokes??
Croatia in the EU? Yeah right, with that sort of attitude not ready for another generation. This pathetically xenophobic behaviour of the government (as well as people's perceptions) has to stop otherwise no point to pursure the European dream any further. Boris

12:19 PM  

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