Politics

Croatia Again Refuses Continuation of Border Arbitration Proceedings with Slovenia

By 3 December 2016

Border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia continues.

The arbitration court for solving the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has recently again asked both sides if they were willing to continue with the process, according to reports in Slovenian media published on Saturday. Slovenia answered that it wanted the process to continue, while Croatia confirmed its decision that it would not take part in the proceedings, reports tportal.hr on December 3, 2016.

“According to our sources, the arbitrators asked both sides a few weeks ago whether they were willing to come before the tribunal for another oral hearing”, writes Dnevnik. Croatia has reportedly dismissed the proposal, while Slovenia replied that it was ready for a new hearing, if the judges deemed it necessary, but added that its arguments relating to the border dispute were already given in June 2014 and that it expected the arbitration to continue.

Slovenian Foreign Minister and the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which provides technical services for the arbitrators, refused to comment on the reports.

If the information is accurate, the arbitrators have perhaps wanted to give the new Croatian government an opportunity to return to the arbitration process, claims Dnevnik, adding that this was unlikely since the positions of both sides have remained the same, which was again demonstrated a few days ago, during the official visit to Ljubljana by Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ivo Stier and his talks with Slovenian Foreign Minister Erjavec.

Minister Stier reiterated at the time that arbitration proceedings were over for Croatia and that the two countries should find new solutions, while Erjavec insisted on the arbitration proceedings.

Citing unnamed sources, Dnevnik says that problems are expected in the implementation of an arbitration decision, provided it is in Slovenia’s favour. “Slovenia and Croatia have already agreed on the most of the land border, but due to some controversial points that was not confirmed by an international agreement. Therefore, that could lead to complications at those location which are currently under the control of the Croatian police, if they are awarded by arbitration to Slovenia. Incidents could also occur at the Piran Bay as well, if the two states try to prove their sovereignty with police boats”, reported Dnevnik.

The Slovenian-Croatian border dispute has remained unsolved after 25 years and the issue represents a major political burden in relations between the two countries. Last year, Croatia decided to leave the arbitration proceedings, which it considered to be irretrievably compromised after information appeared about illegal contacts between Slovenian arbitrator and an official of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry. Croatian Parliament made a unanimous decision to leave the arbitration proceedings, referring to the provisions of the Vienna convention on international agreements.

According to a decision by the arbitration court in June, the judges concluded that the arbitration proceedings were not violated to such an extent that the process could not continue, and added that the independence of other judges was not in question.

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