Next conflict over the new maritime border

In the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute Slovenian authorities have for the first time imposed fines on Croatian fishermen for illegally crossing the new maritime boundary. According to the ruling by the International Court of Arbitration Slovenia controls roughly 80 percent of the Bay of Piran. For commentators from both countries the row has entered the next round.

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Novi list (HR) /

Can Zagreb find a way out of the dilemma?

Zagreb is in a quandary now that the first fines have been meted out to Croatian fishermen, Novi list writes:

“The fishermen from Savudrija were told not long ago in Zagreb that they could go on fishing in the same places as before and that the Zagreb authorities would protect them from Slovenian police and fisheries inspections. ... The state would take care of them and offset any fines they received, they were told. It will be interesting to see just how these fines will be 'offset'. Because if the state pays them in the name of the fishermen that would constitute an indirect recognition of Slovenian sovereignty over the contested part of the bay.”

Delo (SI) /

Only fines can consolidate the status quo

Slovenia has taken the right course of action, Delo concludes:

“It may sound absurd but the fines that are triggering fresh tensions between Ljubljana and Zagreb are like grist to Slovenia's mill. The bigger the dust-up, the clearer it will be to EU Commission President Juncker that he needs to take action. .. The longer it takes to implement the ruling, the more leeway Croatia has to sign agreements that would end up watering down the border solution. ... So the game continues. The fishermen, who are catching more fines than fish these days, will pay the price. So the path to a sea border in the Bay of Piran is paved with fines. This is another oddity that many in Europe find surprising in this curious conflict.”

Delo (SI) /

Slovenia has more pressing problems to tackle

Slovenia shouldn't waste all its time and energy on the border dispute with Croatia, Delo counsels:

“It would be unfortunate if the only thing Slovenia was known for in Europe was its conflict with Croatia. The only thing people associate with Macedonia, for example, is its name conflict with Greece. The dispute with Croatia is pulling Slovenia away from the group of the most closely-allied EU member states. Slovenia, meanwhile, has never distanced itself from the Visegrád states in the east or criticised Hungary or Poland, the two black sheep of EU integration. If Slovenia wants to be part of the Western world it's time it voiced criticism where criticism is due.”

Večernji list (HR) /

The fishermen are not the real issue

The border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia over the Bay of Piran is only superficially about the fate of fishermen being driven out of their fishing grounds Večernji list comments:

“The true reason for the tensions is around ten to twenty kilometres to the north, where the harbours of Koper [in Slovenia] and Triest [in Italy] are located which are vying to become the biggest port in the south of the EU and invest hundreds of millions each year into their infrastructure. ... Put more simply, the Croatian-Slovenian dispute over the marine border is not about fish but about the interests of large companies and states that don't want Croatia to be in a position to endanger free access to Triest and Koper.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Restraint deserves applause

The daily paper Dnevnik is delighted to see that the new border between Slovenia and Croatia is being respected:

“The ruling has been implemented at sea without any major display of military or police power. And for their conduct on this matter Slovenia and Croatia deserve applause. ... Both sides have exercised considerable restraint regarding the implementation of their state sovereignty and powers. ... Since the end of last June we know precisely where the maritime boundary between the two states lies according to international law.”