The Slovenia Times

Arbitration on Border with Croatia Entering Next Phase



Slovenia and Croatia sent to the tribunal this year their arguments regarding the disputed parts of the state border as well as counter-arguments to the views expressed by the other country.

While a third round in this written exchange of positions is a possibility, the next step will be the oral presentations before the court, possibly in May or June 2014.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said that it would not oppose a third exchange of written views, but that this should not affect the timetable, which seems to be roughly defined already.

The presentation of oral arguments is usually an intensive affair, as sessions are held every two to three days and feature the five arbitration judges and the entire delegations from both countries, which means around 25 people on the Slovenian side.

Usually, such oral session take around two weeks. They are expected to be held behind closed doors, as none of the two sides is said to be in favour of making them public.

Following the oral presentations, which can also include queries by the tribunal and testimonies by experts, the tribunal will withdraw for deliberation.

While the arbitration agreement calls for a decision to be taken as soon as possible, the size of the case makes a ruling before 2015 unlikely.

The tribunal, consisting of president Gilbert Guillaume and members Vaughan Lowe, Bruno Simma, Jernej Sekolec and Budislav Vukas, has been tasked with determining the course of the border between the countries on land and at sea, Slovenia's junction to the high sea, and the regime for the use of the relevant maritime areas.

The detailed positions of both sides have remained hidden for the press and public, but the history of the issue indicates that Slovenia is pushing above all for the integrity of the Piran Bay and free access to the high seas.

Croatia probably wants the Piran Bay divided in half and Slovenia cut off from the open sea. Several points on the land border are also contentious.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry is confident about the strength of Slovenia's arguments, including on the sea border and claims that many international law experts feel Slovenia can get even more than envisaged in the 2001 Drnovšek-Račan agreement, which Croatia failed to ratify.


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