Slovenia votes 'yes' to border referendum deal with Croatia

Slovenia votes 'yes' to border referendum deal with Croatia

Most Slovenians have backed the arbitration deal over their country's long-standing border dispute with Croatia, the BBC reported on June 7 2010.In November 2009, the governments of Slovenia and Croatia mutually agreed on a deal to end an 18-year-long border dispute by allowing an arbitration panel to decide on which country could legitimately lay claim to controversial segments of the Slovenian-Croatian border, both on land and sea, the report said.The agreement paved the way for international arbitrators to help end the problem between the two countries. The dispute in question involves the relatively small area of the Bay of Piran in the Adriatic Sea, and dates back to the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991.Once the deal was ratified, a referendum was launched to let people decide whether to accept that deal or not, and Slovenians voted in favour. The decision was hailed as a great victory for prime minister Borut Pahor, but a loss for Slovenia, according to opposition leader Janez Jansa and his party, who believe Slovenia will lose too much of its sea. On the other hand, the prime minister believes the dispute is finally over and will not undermine the integrity of Slovenia.The dispute has strained relations between the two countries, with Slovenia eventually blocking Croatia's bid to join the EU.The BBC reported that just under 52 per cent of those who voted in the Slovenian referendum backed the agreement with Croatia.Parliaments in both Slovenia and Croatia had approved the deal, but the centre-right opposition in Slovenia branded the agreement as a "capitulation" that favoured Croatia, the report said.Previously, Croatia had insisted that the border be drawn down the middle of the bay, but Slovenia, which has a much shorter coastline than its neighbour, had feared this would deny its ships direct passage to the high seas.

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