Even though Croatia has pulled out of the proceedings, the Court will hold two hearings this week and bring forth their decisison
The Arbitral Tribunal scheduled a hearing on Thursday, March 17, which would determine the border between Slovenia and Croatia. Proceedings will be held only one day and behind closed doors, as announced by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague which is acting as registrar for ad hoc arbitral tribunal between Slovenia and Croatia.
On December 2 of last year, the Arbitral Tribunal announced that it will schedule further hearings for Slovenia and Croatia and that they expect that both countries will explain their views on the events of last summer when famous recordings of the conversation between Slovenian arbitrator Jernej Sekolc and Slovenian agent Simona Drenik were leaked to the press. Both have left the proceedings since then, and Croatia announced a unilateral withdrawal from the arbitration process.
“We have no plan B. Plan is arbitration, which will bring the decision. The arbitration procedure shall apply. There is no dilemma about it,” Karl Erjavec, head of Slovenian diplomacy, answered his Croatian colleague. According to Erjavec, the Croatian boycott of arbitration does not mean anything, because the procedure can be run without the participation of one of the parties. That already happened in other cases.
Erjavec will attend hearings at The Hague Tribunal, which will discuss the two protest notes sent by Croatia to The Hague in July 2015. Some circumstances should be clarified. “The alleged violation does not constitute a breach, ” said Erjavec. He also regretted that Croatia left the procedure, although such a step is “a sovereign decision.”
Erjavec expects that the arbitral tribunal will end the process. Bilateral negotiations that Croatian Foreign minister Miro Kovač mentioned recently were never successfully completed. “There are always problems, like the Drnovšek-Račan agreement or Ljubljanska Banka memorandum,” he said. Therefore, it is better that international institutions adjudicate.
Kovac: “Croatian position is well known.”
”For us, this is no longer relevant. Nobody will be sent to The Hague,“ said the Croatian Foreign minister while in Brussels. Croatia is, in his words suspended from the process of international arbitration, and therefore “no longer a party to the contract.”
He announced that he will soon travel to Slovenia, where he will hold talks with Foreign minister Karl Erjavec and President Borut Pahor. “We will find a solution,” said Kovac, ” A solution that should be based on international law and bilateral negotiations”.
Both countries were invited by the court to submit further written observations. Croatian deadline was January 15, and Slovenian was on February 26. Zagreb reported that they are not participating in the arbitral tribunal, and, therefore, did not send any further explanation to The Hague, while Slovenia sent what the court demanded.
Since the entire arbitration process is supposed to be secret, it will be held behind closed doors, along with oral hearings on Thursday. Each country will have half a day to present their views. Croatia will go first,then Slovenia in the afternoon. At the end of the hearing, Permanent Court of Arbitration will issue a summary of observations, today’s press release states.
So the debacle continues…..