The Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Karl Erjavec, who had just returned from the annual session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation (UN) in New York, was asked by TV Dnevnik’s host Mojca Širok why he was seen as an “undiplomatic ruffian” in Croatia. Erjavec believes that the opposite side has no good arguments and that the debate is moving to a personal level.
An excerpt from the interview given below:
Three months have passed since the verdict of the Court of Arbitration and three months are left to implement it. What will happen if Croatia remains opposed to it? Can Slovenia do anything on its own during implementation, aren’t both sides needed to draw a border?
We need both sides to complete the process of implementing the arbitral verdict. But Slovenia can implement some things on its own, since it can pass all required acts in accordance with the verdict. It has been told three times already by the Croatian prime minister that he does not intend to implement it. He said that for the first time when he came to Ljubljana, for the second time in Savudrija and thirdly to the worldwide community at the general assembly of the UN. I think we simply need to keep putting pressure on Croatia with the help of the European Commission (EC). Slovenia also has its own instruments, such as membership in the OECD. Croatia has not met also criteria for entry since it fails to respect international law and international verdicts.
You said the next steps would be talks at the level of the European Commission. In what way can Brussels even get involved in the dispute?
The arbitral agreement has signed under the supervision of the European Union and the vice-president of the European Commission has offered to help if there would be no agreement on how the implement the arbitral verdict. I think the next step will be informing them what happened. I’ve also told the diplomatic network to visit of ministries of foreign affairs and explain what is the reason that our prime minister changed his mind about the visit in Zagreb. Namely, Croats want to spread rumour that Slovenia is not in favour of dialogue.
What can the European Commission do?
EC has a number of instruments, we know it does it vis a vis Poland due to their law reform. It can freeze European funds, but I think a quite strict call to Zagreb would suffice.
You’ve been called an undiplomatic ruffian in Croatia, but now it seems that both sides are equally hot-blooded in term of verbal duels. Can this be stopped?
When someone has no real arguments left, discussion always get down to a personal level. Which is why I’m not surprised I was labelled as aggressive and refusing dialogue. I believe every Slovenian now knows that a dialogue with Croatia is not possible, considering what happened recently at the UN’s general assembly.