“Croatia Should Accept Border Arbitration Decision with Slovenia”

By 28 December 2017

A former Croatian Ambassador to Slovenia says it is illogical that Croatia does not accept the arbitration decision which it considers to be satisfactory.

As we reported yesterday, the Slovenian government announced on Wednesday that it would begin to implement the decision of the arbitral tribunal in the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia starting on Friday. On the other hand, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Friday would be just another regular day, reports N1 on December 28, 2018.

“There will certainly be some tension on both sides. It is quite certain that Slovenia will proceed with the implementation of its decisions and legal provisions related to the implementation of an arbitration decision, which primarily means the application of their four laws that have been adopted in Parliament,” said former Croatian Ambassador to Slovenia Ivica Maštruko.

“They will proceed with an operational strengthening of the border control service. Secondly, they will probably also regulate the rights of Slovenian citizens living along the border, whose properties are now in Croatia according to the arbitration decision. They have decided to give each family member 25,000 euros in order to be able to buy a property, apartment or similar real estate in Slovenia. There are about a hundred Slovenians living in such areas. There is also a formal implementation of the land registry changes,” said Maštruko.

“The fourth law is the one where incidents might be expected – the Law on Marine Fishing. I have not studied it in detail, but it should be kept in mind that this law applies to just about 50 people, fishermen on both sides of the border. There could be minor incidents,” said Maštruko.

The former diplomat is particularly interested to see whether Slovenian soldiers will leave the Sveta Gera mountain peak, which has been given to Croatia. As far as the use of the maritime corridor is concerned between the Slovenian territorial waters and international waters, Maštruko points out that Slovenians are already using it.

“If Croatia does not begin to tolerate the decision of the arbitral tribunal, we can expect that Slovenia will submit an international lawsuit against Croatia in the spring because, according to their view, Croatia is violating international law. That is not a threat, that is something which simply needs to be expected,” Maštruko warned.

“There will be direct contact between the fishermen in the Bay of Piran, which will be followed by the intervention of police patrols from both sides that will try to protect the rights of their fishermen. We can probably expect incidents there, but an agreement can be easily reached regardless of the definition of the border and the acceptance of the arbitration decision. These are things that can be solved by compensation or by coming to an agreement on a fishing area,” said Maštruko.

Many believe that the dispute could be solved by the mediation of the European Commission, but Maštruko has dismissed such a possibility. “The European Commission cannot interfere, and it is likely that it will say the two sides need to agree themselves. It will in some way suggest to Croatia to accept the arbitration decision which, regardless of what Croatia thinks, has been adopted and it will be the cornerstone of any future agreement between Croatia and Slovenia. There is a possibility that the two countries might copy the arbitration decision and sign it as a separate bilateral agreement. Whatever we think about the decision, it has been made, and it exists. It is incomprehensible to me that Croatia is very pleased with the results of the arbitration process, and even Plenković said that 90 percent of the decision is acceptable to us, but now Croatia does not want to accept this favourable judgment. It seems illogical to me. The reason is some kind of political pride that will not bring any positive results,” Maštruko concluded.

Translated from N1.