Slovenian political theorist and former diplomat Milan Balazic will visit the disputed Gulf of Piran to test implementation of a July 29 ruling by The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration that awarded Slovenia control over most of the disputed waters.
The Gulf, Slovenia’s only direct access to international waters, has been contested between Slovenia and Croatia since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. The dispute led Slovenia to block Croatia’s EU admission for years.
Although leaders from both countries agreed to Hague arbitration in 2009, Croatia withdrew from the process in 2015 after transcripts leaked that showed Slovenian Foreign Ministry officials in illicit private contact with arbitrator Jernjej Sekolec. As a result, Croatia rejected the ruling and insisted on further bilateral talks, while Slovenia threatens to take the matter to the European Commission if Croatia does not accept the ruling.
The situations bode ill for a region marred by numerous border conflicts; Croatia alone has disputes with every single former Yugoslav republic it borders. European leaders had hoped the arbitration could be a precedent to resolve future disputes, but Croatia’s obstinance will continue to poison relations among former Yugoslav Republics.