PM Plenkovic: Croatia doesn't intend to apply border arbitration ruling

Photo /Vijesti/2017/06 lipanj/29 lipnja/Pressica PVRH/DSC_4485.JPG

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday the arbitration ruling in the border dispute with Slovenia, presented earlier today, was not binding in any way and that Croatia did not intend to apply its contents, calling on political parties in Croatia to keep a uniform stand and consensus on the representation of Croatian interests internationally.

"The first and most important message of the Croatian government is that today's arbitration decision does not bind us in any way nor are we thinking about applying its contents. The second message is that Croatia adopted its position on the arbitration very clearly and unambiguously in parliament two years ago today," Plenkovic told reporters after the ruling of the arbitral tribunal on the dispute was presented in The Hague.

He recalled that parliament decided by consensus to withdraw from the arbitration after the "scandalous and unlawful conduct" of Slovenia's representative in the proceedings and a member of the arbitral tribunal, which "compromised and contaminated the whole arbitration process. As of that moment, Croatia decided to withdraw from the process."

"For us, this arbitration has no legal effect, but we remain willing for talks with Slovenia on resolving the outstanding border issue and we don't expect Slovenia to take any unilateral steps after this ruling" which would in any way alter the existing state of affairs along the state border, Plenkovic said, adding that, were that to happen, "Croatia has ways to protect its territory and its interests."

Other states and international organisations should leave the border issue up to Slovenia and Croatia as an outstanding bilateral issue, such as many states in the world have, including members of the European Union and NATO, and which they are resolving bilaterally, Plenkovic said.

"Croatia too believes in peaceful ways of resolving disputes, including in arbitration, but only when it is clean, fair and in line with agreed rules. I believe that any other member state, including Germany, would do exactly as Croatia did, and not continue a process for which it was clearly proved that it could not continue like that."

Germany today called on Croatia to respect and implement the arbitral tribunal's decision. Plenkovic said the US position was "quite different." The US said it would not take sides in the dispute and that the governments of the two neighbours should resolve the dispute bilaterally.

Plenkovic called on all political parties, institutions and stakeholders in Croatian politics to keep a uniform position "on this big issue important for our territorial integrity, important for the border issue," and a consensus on the joint advocacy of Croatian interests internationally and in the relations with Slovenia.

The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts said the arbitral tribunal's ruling had no legal effect, following the Croatian parliament's unanimous conclusion of 29 July 2015, and that it was not binding on Croatia in any way.

With respect to the arbitral award rendered today in the arbitration process that Croatia withdrew from because of unlawful acts of Slovenia, the Government of the Republic of Croatia states the following:

  1. Today's arbitral award does not in any way bind Croatia and Croatia shall not implement it.
  1. Croatia has made its position towards this arbitration unequivocally clear already in July 2015, immediately after the scandalous and unlawful actions of Slovenia's Agent in the case and a Member of the Arbitral Tribunal were publicly disclosed. Their actions remain without precedent in international jurisprudence. They constitute systematic and grave violation of the most fundamental principles in international dispute settlement, most notably principles of party equality and independence and impartiality. Such acts of Slovenia represent a material breach of the Arbitration Agreement to Croatia's detriment. The fact that the Member of the Arbitral Tribunal, appointed by Slovenia, and Slovenia’s Agent in the case resigned immediately are indicative of the gravity of unlawful actions. This was confirmed by the prompt resignation from the position of the Member of the Arbitral Tribunal of the then President of the International Court of Justice who was appointed as replacement by Slovenia.
  1. To protect its rights, pursuant to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and on the basis of a unanimous decision of the Croatian Parliament of 29 July 2015, Croatia initiated the procedure of termination of the Arbitration Agreement, ceased to apply it and withdrew from the arbitration.
  1. Croatia particularly emphasizes that, in protection of principles and values of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes which it has always upheld and promoted, it does not accept the results of this obviously compromised arbitration process.
  1. Since this arbitration failed in bringing about a final resolution of the open border issue, Croatia now repeats its invitation to Slovenia to launch dialogue, convinced that two neighboring states, NATO and EU members, must have enough motive and willingness to resolve this issue by mutual agreement.
  1. Croatia expects that Slovenia will not take any unilateral acts that would in any way change the current state of affairs along the common state border.
  1. Croatia invites all other states and international organizations to continue treating this open border issue as a purely bilateral matter which concerns only Croatia and Slovenia.

Text: Hina