Open letter to Commissioner Lenarčič: You have violated the impartiality of your position and sided with Slovenia, which is inadmissible

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04.02.2020.

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic holds a press conference on the Commissions response to the developments relating to the Coronavirus at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, on January 29, 2020. (Photo by Aris Oikonomou / AFP)
Aris Oikonomou / AFP

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, former Slovenian ambassador at EU

The reaction of Euractiv.hr editor-in-chief to the statements of Slovenian commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

Dear Commissioner Lenarčič!

Judging by your conversation with Slovenian correspondents in Brussels (as the Slovenian daily Delo reports), relations between Croatia and Slovenia have moved into the area of "crisis management". As your portfolio in the European Commission stated, you should deal with "crisis situations" as a “European Emergency Response Coordinator”. It may be your estimation that the relations between Ljubljana and Zagreb have sunk into a deep crisis, so it is necessary for you to get engaged. It seems to me that this is not the case. To our knowledge, neither of the two governments has contacted the Commission for assistance in dealing with an elemental disaster or the like.

Therefore, the question arises: why are you interfering in the bilateral relations between the two countries as a European Commissioner? As far as you know, neither of them asked for your mediation or engagement.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Slovenian commissioners, who, according to their job description, should act from European, not national positions, interfere directly in Croatian-Slovenian relations: in October last year, Ms Violeta Bulc called on the Slovenian government to block Croatia's entry into Schengen.

You are now proposing that the two countries again go to the European Court of Justice. "It is hard for me to imagine that there is any other way to settle this dispute other than the path in which the third side would decide," you said, as Delo reports. So you, as the European Commissioner, consider that the two members are unable to solve their problem. Although the EU court stated, “those two Member States are required, under Article 4(3) TEU, to strive sincerely to bring about a definitive legal solution to the dispute consistent with international law”.

Dear Commissioner Lenarčič!

By your statement, you just confirmed that Slovenia, which you are obviously openly presenting in this case, does not want any agreement, which is one of the European values, but that a decision should be imposed by someone else. The same vocabulary was used by Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar on the day of the verdict, saying that "pressure" was needed. On Croatia. Which also seriously deviates from European standards and values.

However, your statement goes a step further and asks the question: is the arbitration agreement binding to both parties. This is a crucial issue for Slovenia. In which it rejects all rational, legal and logical arguments.

On that matter, the EU Court would have nothing to discuss. To remind you, under the rules of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, after both parties have presented their arguments in writing and orally, they no longer have the right to contact the judges. This is forbidden. The Slovenian agent spoke with the Slovenian judge, telling him that she will give him additional documents, which is also forbidden. It has been discovered. At no point did Slovenia deny that it acted unlawfully. But she demanded that the arbitration continue, although Croatia withdrew from it. Article 10 of the Arbitration Agreement: “Both Parties refrain from any action or statement which might intensify the dispute or jeopardize the work of the Arbitral Tribunal”.

Finally, Slovenia last autumn confirmed in a report that the Parliamentary Commission for monitoring the Intelligence and Security Services (KNOVS) published that there were direct, illicit discussions between the agent and the judge. Not to mention that in the spring of 2015, then Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec bragged publicly that he had information that Slovenia would get whatever it wanted from arbitration.

As a curiosity, I would like to remind that Ronny Abraham, a judge at the International Court of Justice, appointed by Slovenia in Arbitration Court after its judge Jernej Sekolec stepped down, resigned after a few days. "The court statement announced that he had accepted to be a judge in these proceedings because he hoped that he could restore the confidence of Croatia and Slovenia in the arbitration process and that this would enable the Court to continue its work normally. Realizing that this could not be achieved at this moment, judge Abraham decided to withdraw from the proceedings and added that it was" inappropriate "at this time to act as a judge in this process."

The EU Court has clearly defined that Croatia has taken all international legal steps to withdraw from arbitration. And it does not state at any point that the arbitration award is binding. It is therefore surprising that you call both parties to ask the Court whether the judgment is binding.

Unfortunately, Mr Lenarčič, with this act you undermine the reputation of the Commissioner because you have shown more than a clear bias in favour of Slovenia, instead of fair impartiality. Croatian Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica responded to the verdict with following words: “It is now obvious that the Croatian authorities were right. We have always advocated a bilateral solution. "

It would be better if you stayed diplomatically restrained and away from the public suggested to Slovenian government to agree to the bilateral negotiations. As requested by the EU Court of Justice.

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