September 22, 2017 / 12:42 PM / 2 years ago

Slovenian PM cancels Croatia visit over maritime dispute

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia’s Prime Minister, Miro Cerar, has canceled a visit to Croatia, accusing the neighboring state of reigniting a long-running maritime dispute, his office said on Friday.

Cerar called off next week’s trip after his Croatian counterpart, Andrej Plenkovic, told the U.N. General Assembly that an international ruling on their shared waters was invalid.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in June that Slovenia should have “uninterrupted access” to the sea it shares with Croatia.

Croatia objected at the time, and Plenkovic said he had merely repeated his country’s position at the United Nations on Thursday.

“In my speech there was nothing new about Croatia’s position, I mentioned the facts... We remain open for dialogue with Slovenia and I invite Cerar to come to Croatia on some other date,” Plenkovic told a cabinet session in Zagreb.

The countries have been arguing over a stretch of their sea and land border since both declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 as it disintegrated into war and broke up.

The dispute, which centers on the bay of Piran, held up Croatian accession to the EU for many years. Only after both parties agreed to arbitration was Zagreb granted entry to the bloc in 2013 - though it later withdrew from the proceedings.

The Hague-based court ruled that Slovenia gets the vast majority of the Piran bay area recognized as its territorial waters.

In addition, the tribunal established a 2.5 nautical-mile wide and some 10 nautical-mile long corridor through Croatian waters to give Slovenia much-coveted direct access to international waters.

Reporting by Marja Novak and Igor Ilic in Zagreb; Editing by

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