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Abraham Nomination "Genial" Move, Slovenia Justice Says

Ljubljana, 29 July - Boštjan M. Zupančič, one of Slovenia's most respected legal minds, has praised the naming of Ronny Abraham for Slovenia's replacement arbiter in the border arbitration procedure with Croatia as a "genial" move.

Brdo pri Kranju
Boštjan M. Zupančič, Slovenia's member of the European Court of Human Rights.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA

Slovenia's member of the European Court of Human Rights suggested Croatia will have a tough time rejecting the procedure now that Abraham, who is the President of the International Court of Justice, will sit on the arbitration panel.

"In a psychological way...it is extremely good if a neutral person, not coming from Slovenia or Croatia, gets involved to inject greater objectivity into the whole situation," said Zupančič of the Slovenian government's decision to nominate Abraham.

Abraham is due to take over from Jernej Sekolec, who resigned last week in the wake of a phone tapping scandal revealed by Croatian paper Jutarnji list when it published alleged recordings of the Slovenian arbiter communicating with a Slovenian advocate in the procedure.

A key point of the allegedly recorded conversations is that Slovenia was headed for an important victory in its years-long quest to dispel Croatian claims to half of the Piran Bay.

Both Sekolec and agent Simon Drenik resigned in the wake of the publication of the recordings and Croatia has announced it would withdraw from the arbitration procedure over what it has labelled a serious breach of the procedure and impartiality of the arbitration panel.

However, Slovenia's neighbour appears isolated in its cause, with the European Commission, which helped broker the arbitration deal in 2009, telling Slovenian media in the wake of the scandal that it fully supports the work of the arbitration procedure.

For Zupančič the European Commission has made it clear it "does not accept the Croatian logic of withdrawing from arbitration".

The arbitration tribunal ruling on the border has also indicated it intends to press ahead with its work once Slovenia nominates a replacement arbiter.

Zupančič assessed that the nomination of the French legal expert is also important because he hails from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which Croatia has preferred to ad hoc arbitration for resolving the border issue with Slovenia.

The fact that Abraham has accepted the nomination suggests that the ICJ "is not seriously counting on having to rule on the Slovenian-Croatian border issue...otherwise the gentleman probably would not have accepted the nomination", said the Slovenian justice.

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© STA, 2015