The European Commission on Friday called on Croatia and Slovenia to respect a decision by an international arbitration court that it will continue arbitration proceedings in a border dispute between the two countries even though Slovenia has violated provisions of an arbitration agreement Slovenia and Croatia signed in 2009.

The EC continues to closely follow developments regarding that important issue and takes note of the arbitration court's decision. The EC is not a party to the arbitration agreement but continues to support and encourage the dialogue between the two sides so that a joint solution can be found. It expects all sides to respect the decision made yesterday so that a lasting solution can be found to the dispute, EC spokesman Alexander Winterstein said when asked to comment on the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

That court reported on Thursday that despite having found that Slovenia had violated some provisions of the 2009 arbitration agreement, its judges would continue the arbitration proceedings on disputed parts of the sea and land border between Croatia and Slovenia because the violations were not not of such a nature as to entitle Croatia to walk out of the proceedings.

"The Tribunal holds that Slovenia, by engaging in ex parte contacts with the arbitrator originally appointed by it, acted in violation of provisions of the Arbitration Agreement. However, these violations were not of such a nature as to entitle Croatia to terminate the Arbitration Agreement, nor do they affect the Tribunal’s ability, in its current composition, to render a final award independently and impartially," the international court said.

The Croatian Foreign Ministry responded to this by saying that Croatia was no longer a party to the arbitration proceedings and did not plan to comment on the court's plans or decisions nor did it consider itself bound by the court's decisions regardless of whether they concerned procedural matters or the merit of the border dispute.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that Slovenia would respect the court's decision and that it expected the same of Croatia.

In November 2009 Croatia and Slovenia signed an agreement on international arbitration in determining the border between the two countries. The agreement was signed in Stockholm, with the EU acting as the mediator.

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