Cablegate: Annual Summer Border Spat Ends Amicably

DE RUEHVB #1079 2511249
R 081249Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: Zagreb 1026 and previous

Sensitive but Unclassified - please handle accordingly

1. (SBU) Summary and comment: Croatian PM Sanader and
Slovenian PM Jansa agreed September 2 to cooperate in a
flood-control project on the banks of the Mura river,
where uncertainty about precise border demarcation
recently led to controversy. With both capitals
returning to work after the summer, the two leaders
acted responsibly - as they have in the past - to
prevent a minor confrontation over construction
equipment from becoming something more serious.
Disagreements remain however, over the land border and
the maritime boundary, and eventually both governments
will have to take a more comprehensive approach to
resolving them. End Summary and Comment

2. (U) Croatian Foreign Minister Kolinda Grabar
Kitarovic told the press September 4 that the September
2 agreement between Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader
and his Slovene counterpart Janez Jansa to cooperate in
reinforcing a dyke on the left bank of the River Mura,
which stretches along both sides of the border, does
not prejudge the state border but is to the benefit of
both countries and local population and sets an example
of how two countries strengthen their international
position through cooperation. The agreement to have
the dyke reinforced by Croatian and Slovene companies
is in line with the findings of the Badinter
commission, which concluded that borders between states
established in the area of the former Yugoslavia were
borders of the former Yugoslav republics, which Croatia
fully supports, the minister told reporters.

3. (SBU) The FM explained that the dyke on the River
Mura was built sixty years ago and is no longer
effective in controlling floods. In 1999, the two
countries agreed to repair it together but nothing was
done until June 2006 when Slovenia announced it would
repair the dyke on its own. Croatian authorities
declined to allow Slovenian repair work to be carried
out in Croatian territory, but took steps to begin
reinforcing the dyke, informing the Slovene side in
notes. The repairs are being carried out in the area
where data on municipal borders correspond in both
Croatian and Slovene cadastral (land ownership) books.
(NOTE: Because land ownership has no real bearing on
the determination national borders, this statement is
not clear and has caused some consternation in
Slovenia.) A bridge over the Mura linking Sveti Martin
and Hotiza and a local border crossing were built in
the area. The Croatian press reported that the
Minister asserted that Slovenia confirmed in an
exchange of notes in early 2005 that the border
crossing is in Croatian territory. COMMENT: Embassy
Ljubljana indicates that the Slovenian MFA sees this
statement as unfounded. According to the Slovenian
MFA, Grabar Kitarovic was referring to one of the
border-crossings described in an Agreement on Trans-
border Cooperation which also includes a special clause
to the effect that the Agreement's regulations do not
prejudice any future border determination between the
two countries. END COMMENT
4. (U) Slovene Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel
responded in the press on September 5, noting that the
joint statement agreed by Prime Minister Janez Jansa of
Slovenia and Ivo Sanader of Croatia at a meeting by the
Mura river on September 2 showed the need to maintain
the state of affairs along the border that had existed
on June 25, 1991 when the two countries declared
independence from the Yugoslav federation.

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