The Arbitral Tribunal issues a Final Award in the arbitration between Slovenia and Croatia
The Hague/Ljubljana, 29 June 2017 – After four years, the Arbitral Tribunal issued a Final Award determining the land and maritime boundary between Slovenia and Croatia. In 2009, following several failed attempts at resolving the border dispute, the two countries, upon the intervention of the European Commission, agreed to resolve their outstanding issues through an arbitration agreement. In November 2009, the Arbitration Agreement was signed in Stockholm; it established an Arbitral Tribunal mandated to determine the course of the maritime and land boundaries between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia, Slovenia's junction with the high seas and the regime for the use of the relevant maritime areas.
After the award was delivered, Minister Erjavec stressed that 29 June was a historic day for Slovenia. The Arbitral Tribunal completed its task: it determined the land and maritime boundaries between the two countries, Slovenia's junction with the high seas and the regime for the use of relevant maritime areas in keeping with international law and the principles of equity and good neighbourly relations. Minister Erjavec expressed his expectation that Croatia will respect the Tribunal's award.
Stressing that a great deal of expert work has been invested in order to be confirmed that Slovenia has been and will remain a maritime country, Minister Erjaverc also expressed his regret that not all turned out according to Slovenia's wishes with respect to the Dragonja River area and Hotiza, but nevertheless the Tribunal's award must be respected.
The Minister thanked the legal counsels and all others participating in this demanding and protracted project.
In respect of the Mura River region, the Tribunal unanimously decided that Brezovec-del/Mirišče forms part of the Slovenian territory. Elsewhere in the Mura River region, the boundary follows the cadastral limits, i.e. the dikes along the Mura remain divided between Slovenia and Croatia. In the Razkrižje area, and in the Drava, Sotla, Sava and Bregana regions, the Tribunal also determined the boundaries along the cadastral limits.
With respect to the areas of Gorjanci and Bela Krajina, the entire cadastral district of Sekuliči, along with the village of Drage, is located in Slovenia, while in respect of Trdinov Vrh, the Tribunal followed the Croatian request and determined the boundary along the aligned cadastral limits. In the area of Brezovica pri Metliki/Brezovica Žumberačka, the boundary follows the cadastral limits, with minor adjustments in favour of Slovenia. The boundary along the Kolpa River follows the course of the river, and at the Čabranka and Kolpa junction, the aligned limits of the cadastre. The Tribunal determined that the so-called Tomšič Plots are located in Slovenia. Along the Dragonja River, the boundary was determined by the Tribunal to run along the course of the Dragonja, and consequently the villages of Bužini, Škodelin and Mlini/Škrilje are located in Croatia.
The Tribunal unanimously concluded that the majority of the Bay of Piran belongs to Slovenia, whereby the boundary follows the line joining the end of the land boundary in the mouth of the Dragonja River to a point on the closing line of the Bay, which is at a distance from Cape Madona that is three times the distance from that same point to Cape Savudrija. The Bay of Piran retains the status of internal waters.
With regard to the maritime boundary, the Tribunal explains that "junction" is the physical location of a connection between the territorial sea of Slovenia and an area beyond the territorial seas of Croatia and Italy. According to the Tribunal's award, Slovenia's junction to the high seas is determined by creating a Junction Area. In the Junction Area, Slovenia is guaranteed uninterrupted and uninterruptible access from and to the high seas: freedom of communication applies to all ships and aircraft for the purposes of access to and from Slovenia's territorial sea and airspace, freedom of navigation and overflight and of the laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and other internationally recognised freedoms, including the operation of ships, aircraft and submarine cables and pipelines. The freedoms of communication in the Junction Area are not conditioned upon any criterion of innocence and are not suspendable under any circumstances. Furthermore, the freedoms of communication are not subject to any duty of submarine vessels to navigate on the surface. However, the freedoms of communication in the Junction Area do not include the freedom to explore, exploit, conserve or manage the natural resources.
Press Release of the Permanent Court of Arbitration - short (609 KB) (29 June 2017)
Press Release of the Permanent Court of Arbitration - long (1.4 MB) (29 June 2017)