Zagreb sucht nach Ausweg aus Schiedsverfahren, Ljubljana empört wegen Spionagemethoden der anderen Seite
23 Jul 15
‚Secret Tapes‘ on Piran Gulf Dispute Shock Croats
After Croatian newspaper published audio tapes of secret talks held between the Slovene judge on the arbitration panel over the Gulf of Piran and the Slovenian representative, Croatia has demanded an investigation.
|Vesna Pusic (left) holding an urgent press conference. | Photo by Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs|
Croatian officials have responded angrily to claims made in a newspaper that judges on an arbitation panel concerning a territorial dispute between Croatia and Slovenia were ready to rule in Slovenia’s favour.
The Croatian newspaper Vecernji list on Wednesday published secret audio tapes of Jernej Sekolec, the Slovene judge on the arbitration court over the Gulf of Piran, talking to Simona Drenik, the representative of Slovenia before the court, discussing confidential conversations between the judges.
In conversations recorded between November 2014 and January 2015, Judge Sekolec allegedly assured Drenik that the court would likely grant Slovenia up to 75 per cent of the maritime waters in the Gulf of Piran, as it wants.
The dispute between between Croatia and Slovenia over the maritime waters on the Istrian peninsula dates back to the break-up of Yugoslavia.
At one point, it resulted in Slovenia blocking Croatia’s EU accession talks in December 2008.
Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor agreed in October 2009 to international arbitration before the The Hague after which Slovenia withdrew its blockade.
The arbitration panel comprises five judges. Besides Sekolec from Slovenia, Croatia has appointed one judge. The court appointed the other three judges along with the president.
Talks between a judge and the representatives of either of the parties in the dispute are forbidden.
Following the newspaper report, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic called a press conference on Wednesday, expressing deep concern.
“If any of these allegations were true, it would be absolutely shocking and drastically change the situation in relation to the process,” she said.
She said Croatia had agreed to international arbitration in “good faith”, trusting the professional and impartial conduct of the judges and the court in general.
Pusic said Croatia had already felt doubts about the process this spring, when the Slovene Foreign Minister, Karl Erjavec, issued similar public statements, predicting how the court will decide.
“We will investigate the truth or untruthfulness of these statements,” she stated, adding that she would inform the arbitration court and the European Commission.
|Map of disputed maritime territory of the Piran gulf. | Photo by Wikimedia Commons|
A source from the Commission said it could comment on the work of the court, however, as Brussels is not a party in the dispute.
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday said Croatia would use the methods for investigation at its disposal to protect the state’s interests.
“It is possible that this is some kind of error, but if not, we will know how to protect our national interests,” he said.
Tomislav Karamarko, head of strongest opposition Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, said if the reports were true, it clearly meant “influencing the arbitration court’s decisions in an illegal manner”.
He called for unity “in defending national and state interests and Croatia’s right to keep its territory, which apparently some want to take”.
Slovene officials have responded coolly to the complains coming from Croatia. While on vacation in France, Erjaves dismissed the the row, saying it was all part of the pre-election campaign in Croatia. “It is obvious that in Croatia they are very nervous,” he added.
Slovene Prime Minister Miro Cerar said he could not comment on the issue before the court had finished its work, but said the complaints were “an obvious attempt to influence the decision of the arbitration court”.