Border Disputes Still Bedevil Ex-Yugoslav States

More than 25 years since Yugoslavia dissolved, the borders between many of the former states remain contentious and unresolved.

More than a quarter of a century since the Yugoslav federation fell apart, the borders between most of the former constituent units – Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia –remain unresolved.

Some are subjected to international arbitration processes, while political disputes centring on others have an impact on their visa regimes – as in the case of Kosovo.

Macedonia is the only post-Yugoslav state without any unresolved border disputes with its neighbours.

Croatia has the most numerous border disputes of them all, having failed to agree its exact borders with any of its four former Yugoslav neighbours – Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro.

Last Thursday, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on the long-running dispute over territorial waters in the Piran Gulf between Croatia and Slovenia, although Croatia has said it will not recognise it, as it views the court as compromised.

Besides the Piran Gulf dispute, the Court has also passed rulings on disputes on the border in the Istrian peninsula, on the Sveta Gera mountain peak, on the Zumberak mountain in central Croatia and on the borders on or close to the Sutla, Sava, Draca, Mura and Sontovec rivers.

Along its 1,011 kilometre border with Bosnia, Croatia has disputes over two locations: the town of Hrvatska Kostajnica, in central Croatia, and over two reefs near the 20km-long Bosnian strip of the Adriatic coast.

Croatia’s 325km-long border with Serbia is also partly disputed. Serbia wants the Danube River to form a natural border, while Croatia wants the border to follow the cadastral principle on the grounds that the Danube has changed course over the years.

This would mean part of Croatian territory going to Serbia and parts of the Serbian municipalities of Apatin, Sombor and Backa Palanka belonging to Croatia.

Two small islands on the Danube river near the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar are also in dispute, and have been on the agenda of an inter-state commission since 1992.

While the border between the two countries is not the highest priority for either country, compared to other issues arising from the armed conflicts of the 1990s, it will become more important once Serbia’s EU negotiations become more intense.

At the Dubrovnik Forum, which gathers political leaders from all over South-Eastern Europe, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said an expert commission from both countries should meet soon to discuss the border on the Danube.

“We feel we can solve things; I don’t think that there are too many problems, no need to raise the passions, it needs to be resolved professionally; and if we can’t agree, then we go into arbitration,” Vucic told regional media outlet N1 on June 30.

The unresolved border between the two states resulted in a group of Czech libertarians in 2015 declaring a microstate on the Danube, called Liberland.

Despite having a border with Montenegro that is only 20km long, Croatia is in dispute with it over the Prevlaka peninsula, near Dubrovnik, and over Cape Ostro.

Besides its disputes with Croatia over the Danube, Serbia has a disputes over the border along the Drina river with Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to the Drina meandering.

While Serbia has some issues over its borders with Croatia and Bosnia, the problem with Kosovo, which Serbia does not recognise at all as an independent state, is far greater.

As Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence, the border, depending on which side is asked, is either an inter-state line or merely an “administrative” border.

While Serbian authorities insist it is not a state border, Kosovo considers it an international border dividing two states.

Kosovo also has an unresolved dispute with Montenegro over the Cakorr and Belluha mountain peaks.

Kosovo opposition parties claims that in 1996 the then Yugoslav government moved the border eight kilometres into Kosovo territory, and that NATO-led KFOR units moved it another five kilometres.

Finalising a border deal with Montenegro is one of the biggest tasks facing the incoming Kosovo government, because the EU has said it will not consider abolishing visa requirement for Kosovo nationals until it is resolved.

Source : Balkaninsight

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/border-disputes-still-bedevil-most-ex-yugoslav-states-07-01-2017-1

 

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