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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 international tribunal delivered the much-anticipated award on 29 June. 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 seas 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 seas. Land border in disputed parts was set largely along the cadastral lines. Slovenian politics 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 scandal 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 insisted that the tribunal award is final and only negotiations regarding its implementation are possible. Slovenia, also insisting that international law must be respected, entered a diplomatic campaign to secure international support for the award's implementation and passed, in due time of six months, legislation which will serve as the basis for its implementation. The EU, which has supported the arbitration all along, will send European Commissioner First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to Slovenia and Croatia to facilitate the implementation.

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

© STA, 2017