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29.04.2018 | 21:52 | IKA E - 199815/4

Statement by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops

On the arbitration of the dispute with the Republic of Slovenia and the holding of an oral hearing on May 2, 2018, regarding the Slovenian request for an opinion from the European Commission

Zagreb, (IKA) – The Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops issued a statement on the arbitration of the dispute with the Republic of Slovenia and the holding of an oral hearing on May 2, 2018, regarding the Slovenian request for an opinion from the European Commission. The statement, presented in its entirety below, was signed by Msgr. Dr.Sc. Đuro Hranić, Archbishop of Đakovo-Osijek and President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops:

"The arbitration dispute concerning the determination of the borders has strained the relationship between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia for several years, especially recently since the Republic of Croatia has withdrawn from the compromised arbitration proceedings and the unilateral attempt to implement the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal. In this spirit, we believe that the most recent request by the Republic of Slovenia for the European Commission to comment on whether the Croatian refusal to implement the arbitration ruling was in breach of European and international law and whether it will initiate a procedure against Croatia before the Court of Justice of the European Union if the ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal is not implemented, merely intensifies this dispute and further distances us from a possible agreement.

"Starting from the Christian principles of justice and peace, we wish to point out that borders must not divide people but should connect them in a spirit of openness and the cultivation of good neighborly relations. Therefore, we hope that the European Commission will recognize the efforts by the Government of the Republic of Croatia toward a good neighborly solution to this issue and support proposals that contribute to the establishment of dialogue. We are of the opinion that the punishment of fishermen and blackmail to block the Republic of Croatia's candidacy for membership in the Organization for European Economic Cooperation and Development do not contribute to the establishment of genuine dialogue and problem solving.

"Therefore, faithful to our mission, this Commission urges the faithful and public of Croatia and Slovenia to do everything to avoid incidents and not increase friction between Croatia and Slovenia, which is historically unprecedented. We believe that the current situation can be overcome by good will, talks between the two governments, and resorting to the competent international judicial institutions, but also through meetings between representatives of our local Churches, with the goal of restoring the good neighborliness of the citizens and local authorities. We believe that the Justice and Peace Commissions of our two bishops' conferences should not intensify tensions with statements or reactions by individual members but that they are called to contribute to calming tensions, supporting a climate of peaceful dialogue and the gradual resolution of all the disputed issues. Therefore instead of presenting the public with a new statement on the determination of the borders between our countries, we invite the Justice and Peace Commission of the Slovenian Conference of Bishops to a meeting between members of the two commissions in the near future, in the spirit of truth, so that we may contribute to peace and justice, especially in the restoration of trust and the establishment of good neighborly relations."

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