European Commission Ready to Pressure Croatia?

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According to Slovenian media, the European Commission will not stay neutral in the arbitration dispute between Croatia and Slovenia.

In parallel with ever stronger statements by Slovenian officials about the implementation of the arbitration tribunal’s verdict on the border, which Croatia says it will not recognize, the leading Slovenian media has started published ever more stronger articles, claiming that the European Union would soon force Croatia to accept the decision, reports on 22 July 2017.

Several large member states, which are among the founders of the European Union, expect Croatia to respect and implement the verdict as part of the international law, which is the essence of European legal system, according to an article published in Delo, the leading Slovenian daily.

Although the European Commission initially showed signs of hesitation, Brussels has, in the end, adopted a clear position, because the foundation of the EU is to act as a community of laws in which relations are governed by standard rules and principles. Delo’s correspondent in Brussels Peter Žerjavič claims that he has in his possession minutes from the latest meeting of the European Commission, “which clearly shows that the decision of the arbitration tribunal was not treated as a marginal topic and that it concerns the very essence of the European community.”

This means, according to the correspondent, that the arbitration decision can no longer be considered as a bilateral issue. Although international and European law does not have their own police that would force states to respect such decisions, for countries that behave like Croatia and which are often dependent on Commission decisions, there are informal but very effective instruments of pressure, says Delo.

“Implementation of the arbitration decision is a much wider issue than the border dispute, so it seems that Croatia is now engaged in negating reality. In such a situation, it will have to decide on its own when to give up stubbornness and stop behaving in a way that only harms it,” writes the Slovenian commentator.

In recent days, Slovenian politicians have intensified their rhetoric and announced that Croatia would have to agree to the implementation of the arbitration decision announced on 29 June, adding that Slovenia was not ready to talk about it as a bilateral issue.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said at the beginning of the week that Slovenia had already begun preparations for a peaceful implementation of the decision, but that it would implement it “with other political means” if Croatia remained steadfast in its current position that the arbitration decision had no legal effects, since Croatia left the arbitration proceedings two years ago, when the Croatian Parliament made a unanimous decision.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec sent a letter to vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans on Friday. He wrote that Croatia did not respect the border on the sea as determined by the arbitrators and that the “incursions” in the Slovenian territorial sea in the Bay of Piran represented a breach of the sovereignty of Slovenia and the entire Schengen Area.

Translated from


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