Slovenia urges EU action against Croatia in border spat

Ljubljana (AFP) - Slovenia's outgoing government urged the European Commission on Thursday to act against Croatia, which it accuses of breaching EU law, after Zagreb refused to accept an international arbitration ruling over a bitter border row.

Ljubljana accuses Zagreb of not implementing a June ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which allocated Slovenia more than two-thirds of picturesque Piran Bay.

Zagreb has refused to recognise the decision and urged Slovenia to start fresh negotiations on the border spat, which has raged since they both declared independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991.

The court gave both parties six months to implement its decision, but after the deadline expired in December, police patrols from both countries started fining fishermen from the opposite side over border and fishing violations.

"If the European Commission does not initiate a procedure against Croatia in the time framework (three months) set by the Treaty on the functioning of the EU, the government will itself hand the case to the EU Court," the Slovenian government said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar, who announced his resignation late on Wednesday, said any procedure against Croatia would not affect the campaigning for parliamentary elections, expected to take place in June.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in January said the bloc was ready to step in to help resolve the dispute.

Juncker insisted the Piran Bay row was "not a big problem", but he warned that other Balkan countries hoping to join the EU would have to solve their border disputes before doing so.