Media Reports: Slovenia to Get Most of Piran Bay

Total Croatia News

According to media reports, arbitration tribunal has made the decision in the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia.

The arbitration tribunal’s decision on the Piran Bay could be issued and published in the shortest possible time, perhaps within a few days. Although Croatia has left the arbitration proceedings, the tribunal has continued its work and according to unofficial information it is just waiting for the right moment to announce the decision. Croatian institutions are intensively preparing for this, and the public will soon be informed in detail about the whole process which was started many years ago, reports Jutarnji List on April 26, 2017.

According to unofficial sources, the decision could be in line with the agreement between then prime ministers Ivica Račan and Janez Drnovšek, which has never been ratified by the Croatian Parliament. In this agreement, most of the Piran Bay would be given to Slovenia so it would gain access to international waters, while Croatia would keep the sea border with Italy. Although the 2001 agreement was initialled, it never came into force.

The decision of the arbitral tribunal is not binding, but it will certainly have far-reaching consequences, above all political, on relations between Croatia and Slovenia. If the compromise decision is made by the tribunal, Slovenia will read it as a victory and demand its implementation, regardless of the fact that the Croatian Parliament made a unanimous decision to leave the proceedings in 2015. If there is any activity on the Slovenian side of the Piran Bay, that could lead to Croatian reaction, which would further complicate the increasingly tense relations between the two neighbouring states.

Although Croatia has presented very specific arguments for withdrawing from arbitration, after Slovenian government officials tried to influence Slovenian arbitrator Jernej Sekolec, the tribunal issued a decision last year to continue with the proceedings. It noted that Slovenia had violated some provisions of the 2009 arbitration agreement, but not to the extent that would justify Croatia’s request for the proceedings to be abandoned.

The hot topic of sea border between Croatia and Slovenia could once again be brought back to the political agenda, at the time when there is growing tension in relations due to implementation of the European regulations on rigorous border controls, which has created unprecedented traffic jams at border crossings. Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec has dismissed any possibility that there is a link between Slovenian rigorous controls at the borders with the conclusion of the arbitration process. However, Erjavec personally sent a clear message to Croatia earlier this year that non-implementation of the arbitration decision could cause problems at the borders between the two states, especially during the tourist season.

Even though prime ministers Andrej Plenković and Miro Cerar spoke on several occasions, there is no change at the borders and Slovenia has announced it would continue with strict systematic controls. Slovenian side says that a bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers can take place only after the tribunal decision is announced.

While Slovenia insists that the arbitral tribunal’s decision will have the status of an international decision that will be implemented, the Croatian side is categorical that, by leaving the arbitration, no obligations can be made for Croatia. In March, the European Commission said that it was monitoring the arbitration process and generally supported the arbitration processes which are in the interests of legal security of both sides.


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