After recent controversial statements, Brussels has clarified its position.
The European Commission on Tuesday clarified its position on the arbitration proceedings with regards to the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia, stressing that it generally supports arbitration processes due to their legal certainty, saying that the border dispute is a bilateral issue and that it would be ready to support a bilateral solution if the two sides agree on it, reports Večernji List on March 7, 2017.
“The European Commission continues to closely monitor the arbitration process about this bilateral issue. In general, the European Commission supports the arbitration processes, which are in the interest of legal certainty for both sides. However, we are ready to support any viable bilateral solution, if the two sides agree on it”, said the European Commission in the statement.
“The Commission urges both sides to continue with their bilateral dialogue on this important issue, which should lead to legal certainty with regards to the definitive solution of the border dispute”, said the Commission’s spokesperson.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said last week in an interview for Slovenian press agency STA, on the eve of his visit to Slovenia, that the Commission supported the arbitration process and expressed his hope that both sides would respect the decision of arbitration tribunal when it is reached. “Whenever there are tensions, I advocate for dialogue. Therefore, the Commission supports the arbitration process which is in the interest of both sides, and in the interest of smooth and effective implementation of EU legislation”, said Juncker. “Croatia has voluntarily reached the agreement with Slovenia. I hope that both sides will in full and without any preconditions respect the decision of the arbitration tribunal”, said Juncker.
Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier reacted to the statement, saying that it undermined the credibility of the European Commission. “Juncker’s statement undermines the credibility of the European Commission. Croatia believes that the Commission should focus on the issues for which it is responsible”, said Stier to reporters last Friday.
In late July 2015, Croatian Parliament unanimously decided to withdraw from the arbitration agreement for resolving the border issue, which the two countries signed in 2009. It also proposed to Slovenia to start negotiations on alternative dispute resolution. Croatia believes that the arbitration process has been irreversibly compromised after it was revealed that the Slovenian representative at the Permanent Court of Arbitration Jernej Sekolec and employee of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Simona Drenik were in collusion with regards to Slovenian arguments and lobbying among other arbitrators. Both Sekolec and Drenik resigned after their collusion was discovered.