stalni arbitražni sud, Haag.jpg
Photograph: International Court of Justice / en.wikipedia.org

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg and the International Court of Justice in The Hague were ready to take up the border dispute case between Croatia and Slovenia, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said in Zagreb on Tuesday.

"I visited the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg and spoke with its president. They expressed their readiness to take up the case. I also visited the International Court of Justice in The Hague and spoke with the court president, Mr Abraham, and they too were ready to take up the case. That shows that Croatia did all it could, it showed constructiveness," Kovac told a press conference.

Kovac said that he had told his Slovenian counterpart, Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, that Croatia was ready to seek a bilateral solution to the dispute.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said last week that the judges would resume proceedings on disputed sections of the land and sea border between the two countries even though Slovenia had violated the agreement, noting that that did not justify Croatia's withdrawal from the arbitration process.

Croatia withdrew from the arbitration last year after media published recordings of unlawful communications between Slovenian arbiter Jernej Sekolec and Slovenian Foreign Ministry official Simona Drenik, who both resigned after that.

The decision to withdraw was unanimously adopted by the Croatian parliament, and Croatia proposed to Slovenia that they start talks on an alternative settlement of the dispute before an international court. Slovenia rejected the proposal and demanded resumption of the proceedings until a final verdict was rendered.

When asked by the press how Croatia would treat a final ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Kovac said that Croatia was no longer party to the proceedings. "Croatia has withdrawn from the proceedings and therefore we will not comment on the court's intentions. The court is no longer relevant to us, it has lost its legitimacy. After all, there are no mechanisms in place to ensure that any decision of the court is applied," he said.

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