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Slovenia says that Croatia's newly adopted regulations on fishing areas boundaries are a unilateral step, and vows to lodge a formal protest against the move.
Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor said on Thursday that the new regulations had no legal bearing on the arbitration proceedings that would solve the countries' bilateral border dispute, but added that the adoption of the regulations was a unilateral step against which Slovenia would officially protest on Friday.
Asked by the press if Slovenia had filed a diplomatic protest note because the Croatian regulations put the sea border demarcation line down the middle of the disputed Piran Bay, Pahor said the Foreign Ministry would forward the note on Friday.
"I think one should avoid moves that have no legal bearing and whereby we only make each other angry," said Pahor.
He said the border dispute would be solved by the binding ruling of the arbitration tribunal, adding that the signing of the arbitration agreement with Croatia had made it possible for his cabinet to focus on economic issues and had a positive impact on security in the region.
Asked if it was justified that some members of Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar's arbitration commission had resigned or announced resignations, allegedly over his government's "lukewarm" reaction to the Croatian regulations, Pahor said they had no valid reason to do so and that the commission would continue working.
The border arbitration agreement reached between Slovenia and Croatia entered into force in November last year.
The agreement will allow a team of international arbitrators to determine the disputed sea boundary between the two former Yugoslav republics.
Croatia and Slovenia have been unable to agree on their land and sea border since becoming independent states in the early 1990s. The dispute centres on ownership of Piran Bay in the north Adriatic Sea and Slovenia's access to international waters.
Slovenia, the only former Yugoslav republic to have joined the European Union, has blocked Zagreb's EU progress for extended periods over the spat.
On Sunday, Slovenia’s citizens will cast their votes in a referendum on a question of apparently modest global significance: Are you in favour of a law ratifying an arbitration agreement between Slovenia and Croatia over a minor territorial dispute?
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