Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Croatia ignores ruling on Slovenia border dispute

  • Piran, a town in southwestern Slovenia (Photo: ucouldguess)

Croatia has refused to recognise a ruling by an international tribunal in the Netherlands, which, on Thursday (29 June) delivered a verdict on an outstanding sea and land border dispute with Slovenia.

"We do not consider ourselves bound by this decision because it was irreparably contaminated and compromised by the actions of the Slovenian side," Croatia's ambassador to the EU, Mato Skrabalo, told EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The nearly 400 page judgment appears to have handed Slovenia the vast majority of the Bay of Piran and set up a special corridor to give the country access to the high seas via Croatian waters. Slovenia has a 46 kilometre coastline, compared to Croatia's 1,700.

The court awarded some parts of the land border disputes to Croatia, and others to Slovenia.

But Croatia says the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration was no longer valid, following disclosures in 2015 that a Slovenian official had inside contacts with the court's Slovenian arbitrator. The arbitrator resigned the day after.

The two sides had initially agreed to the arbitration in 2009 as part of a deal that lifted Slovenia's veto against Croatia's membership of the European Union in 2013.

But revelations about the insider triggered the Croatian parliament in 2015 to unanimously terminate the arbitration agreement. The five-member tribunal was then put on temporary hold until it decided to continue the deliberations in mid-2016.

On Thursday, Croatia refused to accept a copy of the tribunal's decision and maintained that the issue must be resolved on a bilateral basis.

"We believe that this issue of border limitation between Croatia and Slovenia is still open," said Skrabalo.

Skrabalo said that while the border areas remained in dispute, Slovenia still had unimpeded access to and from Slovenian ports.

"There is nothing that would impede access to their ports," he said, noting that his country wanted to keep friendly relations.

Dispute not over, yet

Croatia's intransigence is likely to stoke tensions between the two sides, in a European Union that prides itself on decades of uninterrupted peace.

However, neither side is likely to take any action, aside from diplomatic ones, to provoke the other.

Slovenia's prime minister, Miro Cerar, said on Thursday that his country would do nothing that "might serve to exacerbate relations between our two countries and their citizens."

Instead, Slovenia is hoping the European Commission will pressure Croatia into accepting and recognising the ruling, noting that the ruling must be implemented within six months.

But the commission on Thursday said that it needs time to study the ruling, also called an award, before it makes any comment sometime next week.

Cerar emphasised that the court's decision is final and legally binding on both Slovenia and Croatia.

"Slovenia and Croatia have attempted to resolve the border issue ever since independence, but without success," he said.

He noted the tribunal had awarded three quarters of the Bay of Piran to Slovenia.

He also said that it set up a special access area (or “junction area”), which is 2.5 nautical miles wide, inside Croatian territorial waters. This gives Slovenia the right of transit and navigation for all aircraft and vessels travelling to and from the country.

"The Republic of Croatia may not take from us or limit this access," he said.

Slovenia and Croatia reignite border dispute

Croatia said it would not apply a ruling to be delivered by the international arbitration court on Thursday. Slovenia appeals to the EU to pressure its neighbour.

News in Brief

  1. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  2. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  3. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  4. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  5. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  6. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  7. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll
  8. Austrian government chaos as far-right ministers step down

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us