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Arbitration: Slovenia-Croatia border finally set

Ljubljana, 5 December - Almost eight years after Slovenia and Croatia signed an arbitration treaty under the auspices of the Swedish EU presidency, the Hague-based ad-hoc international tribunal delivered the much-anticipated award on 29 June.

The map of the Slovenian-Croatian border in the Bay of Piran as determined by the Hague-based international arbitration tribunal.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The tribunal had been tasked with determining the course of the 670-km land border and the sea border along with Slovenia's "junction" with the high sea after the two countries failed to resolve the issue stemming from the 1991 break-up of former Yugoslavia.

It awarded a vast majority of the disputed Bay of Piran (around 80%) to Slovenia, and defined a 100 sq. kilometre "junction area" that secures Slovenia's access to the high sea. The land border in disputed parts was set largely along the cadastral lines. Slovenian politicians and experts were happy with the decision, labelling it final and binding on both countries.

Meanwhile, Croatia continued to insist the border arbitration was not its business after it unilaterally opted out of the arbitration process in 2015 due to a wire-tapping scandal, even though the tribunal said the violation was not severe enough to taint the process. Croatia urged for bilateral talks to come to a solution to all open issues, including the border, but Slovenia remained adamant that the tribunal award is final and only negotiations regarding its implementation is possible.

Slovenia, insisting that international law must be respected, embarked on a diplomatic campaign to secure international support for the award's implementation and passed a series of laws before formally implementing the arbitration award on 30 December despite Croatia's protests. The EU, which has supported the arbitration process all along, tasked the European Commission's First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to facilitate the implementation.

© STA, 2017