THE made public in June 2017 and has been

THE PIRAN BAY MARITIME CONFLICT: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

 

The delegation of Slovenia recognizes that
natural resources significantly undercurrent hostility between nations,
particularly when their ownership is contested. Natural resources have
historically acted as a catalyst for conflict, and
unfortunately, continue to do so in the present day. This case study briefly
outlines the maritime border dispute rising from the geopolitical significance
of the Piran Bay, which fuels friction between the nations of Slovenia and
Croatia. The land divisions between the nations, preceding their declarations
of independence, existed. Albeit administrative in nature, they were eventually
deemed to be definite state borders upon the establishment of two new nations,
independent from the former Yugoslavia1. However, unlike the land
borders, sea borders amongst the Yugoslav republics were not present
historically, and thus the Piran Bay and its right of possession has been
contested.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

 

Having recognized the complexity of the
issue, then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Slovenian Prime Minister
Borut Pahor signed an arbitration agreement 2 in November 2009
with the arbitration process starting in The Hague in June 2014. The Permanent
Court of Arbitration’s verdict of the process, which is legally binding in nature,
was made public in June 2017 and has been resisted by Croatia, which withdrew
from the process entirely. This unduly causes pressure on Slovenia, both in
terms of its people as well as in terms of foreign policy.

 

 

SOCIOPOLITICAL
CLAIMS: SLOVENIA’S POLICY POSITION

The
disputed Piran Bay has two conflicting desired verdicts which both refer to the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
Article 153 that states:

‘Where
the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent to each other, neither of the
two States is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to
extend its territorial sea beyond the median line every point of which is
equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadth of the
territorial seas of each of the two States is measured. The above provision
does not apply, however, where it is necessary by reason of historic title or
other special circumstances to delimit the territorial seas of the two States
in a way which is at variance therewith.’

In
accordance to the first sentence of the UNCLOS, Croatia appeals (as outlined in
the Position of the Republic of Croatia in the Delimitation of the Piran Bay
and Connected Issues of the Dragonja River Area) for the maritime border to be
mapped in correspondence to the principle of equidistance; this means that
Croatia ideally favors for a border in the middle of the Piran Bay. However,
Slovenia recognizes the latter section of the UNCLOS, stating that the
equidistance proposition is simply not applicable in this case because the
Slovenia-Croatia conflict is a ‘special circumstance’ 45.
Slovenia stands by its claim for the four following reason:

Slovenia
recognizes sovereignty over the whole of the Piran Bay

Slovenia
draws attention to the fact that it has historically practiced juridiction over the Piran Bay; its authority over the
area has been in exercise since the Osimo Accords in 1975,6 and as a result,
it is evident that Slovenia has administrated the area in the former federation
as well as after its independence. In addition to this, the legal evidence of
its jurisdiction can be found in the ‘Instruction of the Police Directorate of
the Republic of Slovenia’.78 As a result, Slovenia recognizes that due to
its economic and police control in the Bay area prior to and post its
independence, it holds the right to continue exercising its jurisdiction.

The
equidistant approach is not applicable

Slovenia
yields that the Croatia-Slovenia conflict is a special circumstance, which is
why the former part of article 15 in the UNCLOS is not applicable. Slovenia
reinforces that the conflict is a special circumstance because if the
equidistant approach comes into force, then Slovenia will have no access to
international waters, while Croatia’s key demand is to maintain maritime
borders with Italy.45 Slovenia proposes that both of these
demands can be met by following the latter section of article 15 in UNCLOS and
adopting the principle of equity instead.

Such
a resolution did come in to play on 20th July 2001 through the
Drnvosek Racan agreement between the prime ministers of Croatia and Slovenia.
In the signed agreement, Croatia would get 1/3 of the gulf as well as maritime
borders with Italy and Slovenia would get its corridor to international waters.10
Despite the agreement being signed, the Croatian population contested it,
causing the solution to never come into practice. However, Slovenia believes
that the agreement was iron bond due to it being signed by both parties as per
Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which states that:

“the
consent of the state to be bound by a treaty may be expressed by signature,
exchange of instruments constituting the treaty, ratification, acceptance,
approval or accession, or by any other means if so agreed.”9

Therefore,
it becomes evident that this is a ‘special circumstance; and hence an
equidistant approach is not applicable.

The
Historical important of the Piran Bay to Slovenia

The UNCLOS states that “reason of historic title” is
justified to enact the principle of equity. Historical documents from the
Catholic Church reveal that the Savudrija Peninsula always belonged to the
bishopric of Koper which is presently within Slovenian territory. This confirms
that the Piran Bay is a historical bay belonging to Slovenia.11

Population
Density

The
population density on the Slovenian side of the Piran Bay is heavily populated;
around 800,000 people reside within that area. Thus, the Slovenian control over
the whole Piran Bay is justified, in order for Slovenia to best serve its
people.11

 

LOOKING
INTO THE FUTURE: POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

Slovenia
recognizes three possible verdicts to resolve the matter at hand:

1.     
Due to Croatia’s rejection of the
arbitrary ruling in 2017, Slovenia recommends there to be open dialogue between
both nations through meetings and conferences. Slovenia hopes that this will
lead to favorable relations in which any underlying hostility is eliminated.
This will enable negotiations that will hopefully refer back to the 2001
agreement of Drnvosek Racan; in which Slovenia keeps access to high seas and
Croatia keeps its territorial contact with Italy.

2.     
Croatia rejected the ruling before
viewing it, therefore, Slovenia would be willing to reject the arbitrary ruling
as well in the case that Croatia forms a new ruling that functions as more
favorable to Slovenia than the original one. In the new verdict Croatia
formulates to bring to the table, Slovenia is willing to compromise on two
grounds. Firstly, Slovenia is willing to compromise the disputed territory in
the Dragonja River valley which is predominantly populated with Slovenians.
Secondly, Slovenia is willing to give Croatia territorial contact with Italy. Both
of these compromises are made in order to receive access to international
waters in exchange. Furthermore, Slovenia suggests referring to the ‘Osimo
border’ in the process of mapping the maritime border.

3.     
Suggests the adoption of a more complex
approach where the maritime borders between Croatia and Slovenia are
eliminated. The solution caters to a more globalized world in which borders are
becoming more symbolic than functional. In terms of the conflict in the fishing
sector, member states have almost delegated all their sovereign rights to
bodies such as the EU which ensure the better exercise of such practices. As a
result, the continuous conflict becomes hollow and empty.

Within
this world, Slovenia has the ability to achieve its goals which include:

•      
Unhampered functioning of its ports

•      
Preservation of the sea for the
general wellbeing of the local inhabitants

•      
The development of tourism

             The same is true for Croatia which
achieves:

•      
Preservation of its environment

•      
High living standards for its local
inhabitants

•      
Direct contact with Italy

Furthermore,
there will be an adoption of the EU’s four fundamental freedoms to solve the
problems faced by local fishermen and the EU citizenship will be granted to
individuals living within the disputed territory. Therefore, this happens to be
a peaceful and affective solution.