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Slovenia to sue EU in wine name dispute

Slovenia plans to sue to protect its Teran wine designation
Slovenia plans to sue to protect its Teran wine designation AFP

Ljubljana (AFP)

Slovenia said Friday it will sue the European Commission for allowing winemakers in neighbouring Croatia to use one of its protected wine designations.

Teran, a grape grown in the red soils of Slovenia's rocky Karst plateau, had protected EU status since the country joined the bloc in 2004.

But in May, the European Commission adopted an amendment allowing winemakers from Croatia's Istria peninsula to use the "teran" designation for one of its wines under certain conditions.

Slovenia insists that such an exception was never mentioned during accession talks that preceded Croatia joining the European Union in 2013.

"Slovenia believes the European Commission's decision represents a violation of an existing (wine brand) protection that will cause big economic damage" to Slovenian winemakers, Agriculture Minister Dejan Zidan told journalists in Ljubljana.

He said the move "breached the EU's fundamental legal principles" and exceeded its competences concerning common market rules of agricultural products.

The government will file its complaint next month, Zidan added.

In addition, Slovenia said it had sent a letter to Brussels about Croatia's alleged violations of the sea border in the Piran bay, a small maritime area claimed by both Ljubljana and Zagreb.

The picturesque bay has poisoned relations between the neighbours since they both declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and began fighting over the 670-kilometre (415-mile) border separating them.

Last month, a special arbitration tribunal in The Hague awarded Slovenia key access to international waters in Piran bay, sparking anger from Croatia which said it would refuse to implement the ruling.

Slovenia on Friday accused Croatian police boats of violating the Piran maritime border by patrolling in its territory.

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