The arbitration tribunal dealing with a border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia may continue its work even if Croatia persists in its view that this process is irreversibly contaminated and dead, Vasilika Sancin, Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, told the Dnevnik daily in an interview published on Friday.
"It's Croatia that needs to prove that the arbitration agreement on border dispute settlement has been violated, and Slovenia can then respond to those claims," Sancin said, commenting on Wednesday's call by the Permanent Court of Arbitration to both parties to make additional submissions.
Both parties were invited to declare their positions on the legal implications of Croatia's decision to exit the arbitration process following impermissible contacts between Slovenian arbiter Jernej Sekolec and Slovenian Foreign Ministry official Simona Drenik and Sekolec's influence on the other arbitration judges.
Sancin believes that this does not mean that the tribunal will not take into account Slovenia's arguments that there are no legal grounds for discontinuation of the proceedings. Quite the contrary, the tribunal may continue its work until reaching a final decision even in case Croatia withdraws from the process in accordance with the decision of its government and parliament. "The tribunal could continue its work even on the basis of a response from one party, Slovenia," Sancin said.
The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it would respond to the call from the arbitration tribunal, while the Croatian Foreign Ministry would not comment.
Since the tribunal announced that it would hold one more hearing in the matter in March next year, after that it could make public whether it would continue its work or not. It could also render the award and explain why it had decided to continue its work, Sancin said.