The latest on the border dispute with Slovenia.
The arbitral tribunal, which should decide on the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia, will continue its proceedings, despite the fact that Croatia, due to the so-called Pirangate affair, withdrew from the arbitration agreement. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague announced that the president of the arbitral tribunal Gilbert Guillaume has appointed Norway’s Rolf Einar Fife as the Slovenian arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration and Nicolas Michel from Switzerland as the Croatian arbitrator, which means that the court can now continue its work, reports Novi List on September 26, 2015.
Croatian arbitrator Budislav Vukas resigned after Croatia withdrew from the arbitration process which has been compromised by the discovery of unauthorized consultations and lobbying between the Slovenian arbitrator Jernej Sekolec and Slovenian representative Simona Drenik, who both also resigned afterwards.
The Slovenian side quickly appointed as its new arbitrator Ronny Abraham, but he also soon resigned, so it seemed that it could be the end of the arbitration proceedings.
The Croatian side decided not to appoint a new arbitrator, considering arbitration process “dead” and calling on the arbitral tribunal to dissolve itself. However, Slovenia argues that Croatia cannot unilaterally withdraw from the arbitration and claims that the arbitral tribunal must continue its work until the final judgment is made, which Ljubljana expects will be in its favour and give Slovenia a territorial contact with the open sea.
The arbitral tribunal itself will decide who is right and who is wrong. It is theoretically possible that the court will now again review the situation and conclude that the arbitration process should be discontinued, but that is highly unlikely, especially after Guillaume made a great effort to find two experts who were ready to take this risky and potentially compromising task.
However, it is important to bear in mind the timing of further decisions in this case. The final decision on the dispute was originally supposed to be released by year’s end. Even if the decision is postponed for a few months, the final verdict could be made before the ruling on the justification of Croatian decision to leave the arbitration proceedings.
The Slovenian side is very pleased with the latest turn of events and considers the new appointments as its victory, while the Croatian side is silent: “The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs will not comment on this issue, since Croatia has withdrawn from the arbitration proceedings after Slovenia compromised the process.”