Slovenia and Croatia failed to reach an agreement for the demarcation of Piran Bay on Wednesday.
The failure is of critical significance to Slovenia’s trade, as the smallest of the Alpine nations has only 46km of coastline and no direct access to international waters in the Adriatic Sea.
The Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, and Croatia’s, Andrej Plenkovic, are entangled in the latest round of bilateral negotiations of a dispute that endures since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Successive administrations have failed in bilaterally framed negotiations, including Janez Jansa and Ivo Sanader in 2004. In 2009 Slovenia dropped its veto on Croatian accession to the EU on condition that Zagreb accepts international arbitration for the border demarcation. Zagreb walked out of the arbitration process in 2015, alleging the collusion of a Slovene judge with Ljubljana.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Plenkovic denounced the arbitration process as “contaminated and corrupted.”
The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in June that Slovenia must have “uninterrupted access” to the international waters. The ruling is final and binding and the two countries have six months to comply. However, the Croatian government says that it will not honour the Arbitration Court ruling.
Following the failure of bilateral talks, Prime Minister Plenkovic is now turning to the European Commission for support, as the resolution of the border dispute was included in the conditions of Croatia’s accession to the EU.