Romana Prce, Faculty of Law, University of Split, Croatia Erasmus student at Faculty of Law in Maribor Research interests: EU law, Commercial law, Labour and Social Law
Arbitration Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia has been signed on 4. November 2009. The fact that it is secured that teritorial issues, the question of the border of Croatia and Slovenia, both on the land and at sea, shall be determined in accordinance with international law, has been of the most significance for Croatia.
Republic of Croatia hoped that this Agreement will end positive for both sides. We must all be aware of the importance of the task that has been set in this Arbitration. Therefore, it was set to determine that the boundaries between the two countries that were at that time in the middle of European integration had a successful legal and political cooperation and maintained a solid mutual diplomatic relations. Moreover, it was set to straighten the issue of Slovenian links to the open sea, and at the end regime for the use of sea areas.
Foreign Minister of Croatia Vesna Pusić, who was aware of all circumstances and inappropriate statements which are related to arbitration, send a lettler to Vice- President of the European Commission, which was also fowarded to the President of European Commission. Evidence related to statements of Slovenian representative arbitration and the judge appointed by the Republic of Slovenia has been leaked by the Serbian media, and then appeared in the Croatian public. According to transcript and audio recording between the diplomat and judge, the greater part of the bay would in fact be recognized as Slovenian. In Slovenia, on the other hand, an arguement is set that there is no need for such drastic moves of the Croatian Government, although it was clear, not only from the published interview of the member of the Arbitraton Tribunal appointed by Slovenia, that there has been irreversible disuption of trust between the parties. Nevertheless, the Slovenian Prime Minister claimed that Croatian parties in accordance with international law and the rules of the Arbitral Tribunal cannot unilaterally withdraw from the process.
Attemped agreements between the Slovenian and Croatian prime ministers to find a solution were unsuccessful and a wish to start a bilateral dispute in front of a national forum remains intact.
The Arbitral Tribunal published a press release in which it states that it now falls in the hands oft he President of the Tribunal to appoint the remaining two members of the Tribunal to replace the two that have resigned.
The Croatian Government, in accordance with the Ruling of the Croatian Parliament, initiated the procedure of termination of the Arbitration Agreement because of its material breach by Slovenia, instructing also the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs to inform Slovenia that, as of the date of Croatia’s ratification to Slovenia, Croatia cease to apply the Arbitration Agreement.
Because of the endangerment of the legality of the proceeding and because of the serious concerns due to such course of events, Croatia requires the suspension of arbitration proceeding.
European Commission expresses its support for the continuation of the arbitration. However, the Commission has encountered resistance from the Croatian side. Croatia send the letter to the European Commission with a simple task, to imply its lack of legal basis in this engagement.
The dispute, therefore, consists in disagreement of Croatia and Slovenia in the interpretation and application of the general (universal) positive international law, and in particular, Convention 82.
Dispute with Slovenia, which is a neighbouring and friendly country, should be solved on the basis of international law. Unresolved disputes create pressure to state leadership and to the population and this is a reason why there should be find per consensum solution – a solution that is positive and satisfying for both sides.
Croatia and Slovenia have been in the conflict for too long and it is time to harmonize states and in bona fide decide which is the best way to find compromise. For a long time Croatia and Slovenia have been in an excellent neighborly relations, in business and in other important fields, and it would be extraordinary damage to endanger that.