“Border Dispute Arbitration with Slovenia Does Not Exist for Croatia”

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Croatian officials are determined not to implement next week’s decision by the arbitration tribunal on the border dispute with Slovenia.

Croatia no longer considers the arbitration proceedings on the border dispute with Slovenia as relevant and nothing special will happen on Thursday when the arbitral tribunal announces its decision on the case, said Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović in an interview with a Slovenian daily, reports Jutarnji List on June 24, 2017.

“Croatia will neither accept nor reject the outcome of the arbitration since it does not exist for us,” the President said, pointing out the united position of Croatia that the arbitration had been irreversibly compromised and that dialogue between the two states on the bilateral dispute should be sought in a different context. The President said that, after the announcement of the verdict, Croatia would behave as if it had not happened and that it would keep such a position regardless of the outcome of the arbitration.

Next Thursday, when the arbitrators will announce their decision, will be an ordinary day just like any other, said Grabar-Kitarović, adding that no drama should be expected from the Croatian side and that Slovenian tourists were as always welcome in Croatia. “We invite the Slovenian guests to come, and we welcome them with open arms,” ​​she said.

In the Slovenian media, the forthcoming announcement of the arbitration decision is discussed on front pages of newspapers, and it has a prominent place on television news shows. Journalists speak about the “history” of the dispute, and Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar has called the next Thursday a “historic” day for Slovenia.

Although some media quote unspecified diplomatic sources that Slovenia’s position that Croatia should respect the verdict could be supported by Germany, there is other information which suggests that lobbying in this regard among EU members was not as successful as Slovenia expected.

Late Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek argued that negotiators with Croatia should have good nerves, and that the mutual intensification of tensions and inappropriate behaviour, for example towards tourists at the borders, can only “prove” that Slovenia has not left the Balkans, says Večer from Maribor in its commentary of inflammatory statements made by former Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrije Rupel, who recently stated that “warships” should be used in the disputed maritime zone. The arbitrary decision will be issued, but it is clear that a dialogue will need to follow it since the arbitrators have neither the army nor the navy, says Večer from Maribor.

On Friday, Slovenian media reported on Cerar’s statement that he was satisfied with what he heard from interlocutors while presenting Slovenian views on the expected decision at the margins of the EU summit this week, but citing diplomatic sources which claim that Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was also active in this regard. According to Slovenian media, Plenković in Brussels allegedly distributed to leaders of the EU member states a memorandum on the position of the Croatian government regarding the arbitration dispute with Slovenia.


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