First Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union Maciej Szpunar (Screenshot: HRT) First Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union Maciej Szpunar (Screenshot: HRT)

The Advocate General, Priit Pikamäe – an independent lawyer from Estonia, assessed that the case is an international border dispute outside the scope of EU law and thus beyond the court's jurisdiction. The First Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union, Maciej Szpunar, read out Pikamäe's opinion: "In the legal suit Slovenia initiated against Croatia for the alleged infringement on European Law, stemming from Croatia's decision to not implement the ruling in the border arbitration, independent lawyer Priit Pikamäe has assessed that the case does not fall within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice."

Croatia withdrew from the arbitration in July of 2015 after Slovenia was caught in a material breach of the provisions of the arbitration agreement, specifically engaging in backroom deals in order to secure a favorable verdict. And while the opinion of the Advocate General is not binding for the court, Croatian politicians are clearly pleased with his opinion.

"We are truly very happy with the opinion of the Advocate General, who is advising the court to dismiss in its entirety, Slovenia's case, which ultimately confirms all of the arguments Croatia presented throughout the process. He also advised the court that Slovenia should reimburse Croatia for all of the legal expenses incurred," said Deputy Foreign and European Affairs Minister Andrea Metelko Zgombić after Wednesday’s cabinet session.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković opened the cabinet session with a conciliatory tone, inviting Slovenia once again to engage in dialogue: "Our message to the Slovenian government, is the same one we have repeated to the incumbent and previous Slovenian governments. Croatia and Slovenia are neighbors and friends, and there are more positive things that bring us together than one open issue, which is the inheritance of the dissolution of the former country. We are ready to resolve this issue through dialogue and the normal means for resolving the border demarcation between two countries."

At Slovenia's insistence the arbitration proceeded without Croatia, and in June of 2017 awarded Slovenia large swaths of Croatian territory including Savudrija Bay, the traditional fishing grounds for Croatian fishermen from Savudrija. Since the June 2017 ruling they have received more than one million Kuna in fines from Slovenia. "I applaud the decision, it is a logical one, because Slovenia, through various actions and courts wants to legitimize what they managed to steal through the arbitration process," said local fisherman Danilo Latin.

Source: HRT