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PM Cerar: Arbitration ruling binding on both countries

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar was in Zagreb today on a working visit. The main topic of the visit was the implementation of the arbitration ruling. In a statement for the press following the meeting, the Prime Minister emphasised that, for Slovenia, respect for and implementation of the arbitration ruling by both countries is the only possible way to resolve the border issue.

He described today's meeting as a continuation of the dialogue begun with the Croatian Prime Minister following the publication of the ruling. "Slovenia considers the arbitration ruling, by which the Arbitral Tribunal determined the land and sea borders, to be binding, and will therefore respect it and implement it. We expect the same from Croatia, since implementation of the ruling is an obligation under international law that applies to both countries."

Mr Cerar added that "the fact that we spent more than 20 years attempting to reach an agreement on the border through dialogue is proof that the legal route, in other words the route via an arbitration agreement, was the correct one and the only possible way to achieve a binding solution."

Mr Cerar underlined that while Slovenia and Croatia are friendly countries with good neighbourly relations, relations between them exist at multiple levels: in some areas they are excellent, while in others they are not. The border issue is an area where it appears that there is a lack of trust between the two countries. "I firmly believe that the rule of law is a civilisational norm and fundamental value of the EU, to which we both belong. All of us must be committed to these values if we wish to continue our constructive coexistence."

Mr Cerar underlined that the arbitration ruling is indivisible and must be observed in full: "The ruling does, however, have two different dimensions. One is the sea border, which the Arbitral Tribunal determined very precisely, and therefore no special implementation agreements are needed. The situation is different when it comes to the land border, where a joint mixed commission needs to be formed to carry out demarcation on the ground within the context of the ruling." 

Mr Cerar expressed his regret that Croatia has not changed its position in the six months since publication and continues to reject the ruling. "Slovenia is persisting with the implementation of the ruling, since we are bound to do so by international and European law." The Prime Minister expressed the opinion that the decision and its implementation are extremely important, including from the point of view of strengthening trust between the two countries, since the border issue has been affecting bilateral relations for a number of years. "It is also an important example of good practice in resolving border issues, something that is particularly relevant in the Western Balkans region."