Rotten Foundations Rocking Court Ruling On Slovenia-Croatia Border Dispute

EU Arbitration Tribunal – Hague
Photo: Famagusta Gazette


Global arbitration court in The Hague June 29th handed Slovenia victory in a long-standing maritime dispute with Croatia, granting it direct access to worldwide waters in the Adriatic Sea. In their reportedly convoluted 300-page judgement, judges ruled Slovenia should have “a junction area” with global waters, allowing “freedom of communication” to all ships, civilian and military, seeking access to Slovenia. The tribunal had awarded three quarters of the Bay of Piran to Slovenia, evidently ignoring the fact that Croatia had in 2015 withdrawn participation in the border dispute arbitration after a phone-tapping scandal which brought to light improper dealings evidencing disturbing lack of impartiality in the case by a Slovenian judge sitting on the court’s panel of judges. The Croatian newspaper “Vecernji” leaked tapped phone calls where Jernej Sekolec, the Slovenian representative to the EU-backed arbitration panel, spoke with Simona Drenik, Ljubljana’s intermediary dealing with the case, about tactics that would secure a favourable ruling for Slovenia. In 2009, the two former Yugoslav states agreed to a deal wherein the five-member tribunal would reach a binding decision on five square miles (13 square kilometres) of mostly uninhabited land and coastline, including Piran Bay on the northern Adriatic Sea. Both countries were asked to propose one member for the panel and a key element of impartiality was that no member discusses the tribunal’s work with their government. Slovenia breached the impartiality agreement and rule and still gets to win the case!

Who said justice was blind? Well, in this case it’s blindness pertains to ignoring corruptness within.

But then, who would expect anything else with Carl Bildt (notorious for his evident indifference to ethnic cleansing of Croats and Bosniacs during the 1990’s war of Serb-aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the co-chair of the 1995 Dayton Agreement that fortified the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a relentless ethnic battleground even during peace time), co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, saying the international community “is likely to overwhelmingly endorse [the] arbitration conclusion on [the] Croat-Slovene dispute”.

In Ljubljana, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar Friday 30 June 2017 hailed the ruling as a “historic moment for Slovenia”, saying the judgement “is definitive and must be applied on both countries, Slovenia and Croatia”.

Ahead of the ruling, Croatian authorities and opposition said they would consider the court’s decision to be “a dead letter on paper” and that another way to solve the dispute should be sought, “in a peaceful and sober manner”.

Croatia insists the matter is not resolved and wants to continue bilateral talks. “Croatia’s view is known,” said Andrej Plenkovic, Croatian prime minister, before the ruling. “We quit the arbitration, since for us it is irrevocably contaminated and compromised.”

“Today’s arbitration decision for Croatia is a decision which is not obliging us in any way…. nor do we intend to implement its content,” Plenkovic told reporters after the arbitration court’s decision was made public.

Photo: Wikimedia

“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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.”


Obviously, the dispute has highlighted a legacy of hasty partitions of few territorial patches of disputed borders, while keeping the bulk of internationally recognized borders, left behind by the disintegration of former Yugoslavia and the Serb-led war of aggression of the 1990s, during which the sudden dissolution of Yugoslavia, propelled by the plight to secede from communist Yugoslavia and establish democracy, spiraled into bloody and destructive conflict where Croatia found itself forced to defend itself and its people’s self-preservation. Ina Vukic



  1. Thank you for the post. I didn’t find any news/ analysis regarding this dispute the last years.

  2. Zezevica says:

    Hi Ina, These border disputes will continue for years, all because of those stupid Partizani and their AVNOJ deciding on borders whilst murdering anti communists. What bothers me on this issue here is that both Croatia and Slovenia are fighting over who owns what in the adriatic and for us rightfully or wrongly we will not accept this decision. What will happen if other more important border disputes with Serbia and Bosnia are resolved the same way, by the EU court of Arbitration, and the decisions are awarded in favour of Croatia. The other sides may use this dispute as a precedent and not accept the arbitration ruling. To be honest, I am more worried about losing land rather than under 10km of water.

    • Zezevica, I hear what you say but Croatia’s complaint has to do more with the fact that wrong occurrences were present in the arbitration process, i.e. Slovenia side doing deals under the table before the court had the chance to hear all arguments, hence Croatia pulled out

  3. Dear Inavukic, I follow you and I try in my small world to bring to discussion some points that matter, I feel very small in this as I do not have experience of or truly understand the situation. I am against genocide, corruption and perfidy committed by politicos. my historical understanding is by no means academic, but as always with matters of the heart, it is about learning of injustice and genocide and to bring these issues to my world… (where indeed we hide our own crimes against the FIRST Australians). I am humbled that you take the time to read my lousy poetry, perhaps I am too rough on myself, my poetry is not lousy, because technicaly it isn’t poetry. But please understand that your works about Croatia deeply touch me, and I so respect your perspicacious efforts, and as I have said, try to bring them into my world. Thankyou…

    • Thank you so much steele, poetry to my view is never lousy, behind it stands deep thoughts, relating and applying to life as we know it. As to crimes against Australian indigenous people it is a must that these be addressed more and truth placed at the forefront of our lives, however that truth may be unpleasant

  4. David Byler says:

    It appears to me that rather than the facts of the matter, the court’s ruling is based on the long obsolete notion of the blessedly defunct League of Nations which said that, for there to be lasting peace, every nation must have access to the sea (or presumably be absorbed by a nation which does).

    • Could easily be, David – even if some do not or cannot have access to the sea. Slovenia has it but wants more…now that is of special curiosity.

  5. Ina, Jeli mozda imas ugovor ili kontrakt zasto su se slozili Slovenija i Hrvatska prilikom potpisivanja ugovora o arbitrazi. Navodno, slusao sam Kosorku koja je iznijela nekoliko zanimljivih detalja u vezi dogovora, a to je, kako su se stranke morale ponasati, odnosno sto se sve moglo a sto ne, raditi prilikom rada arbitraze.
    Sve sto sam moga procitati ili cuti na Hrvatskoj TV je da je ARBITRAZA KONTAMINIRANA, ali jeli to zaista istina to je pitanje. Navodno glavni sudija je jednom prilikom rekao da je to sve sto Hrvatska smatra kontaminacijom bilo nevazno, mala sitnica.

    • rb – no I don’t have a copy of the original contract between Slovenia and Croatia re border dispute arbitration but from several sources I have read there was a clause in the contract that required utmost impartiality by Slovenian and Croatian representatives on the panel. Slovenian side had been caught-out breaching that impartiality rule and Croatia pulled out of the process in 2015 as a result.

      • Hi Ina,
        Zaista me cudi da se taj dokument cuva u tajnosti, a u meduvremenu sve vlade od Milanovica pa do danas sa Plenkovicem stalno muljaju da je Arbitraza KONTAMINIRANA. Neznam kakav je cilj svemu tome,,,,jeli hoce da se ljudi svadaju ili sto

      • Da čini se da nekima pašu svađe 🙁

  6. Seems that the EU again is siding with corruption and a flawed process by supporting this court decision – how blind. I don’t understand how the court was allowed to continue under the circumstances. The entire process should have been halted, investigated and new policies put in place to prevent such a breach of trust. From which a new court session could have been initiated will all the judges on the original court fired. I guess people and institutions no longer care about scandals, injustice and corruption; they just accept it and move on. No wonder the world is in such a rotten place.

    • It is truly mind-boggling when courts permit continuance of corrupted process, Sunman. A sad indictment of the world we live in

  7. Much appreciate the reblog, Jonathan 🙂


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