Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Vesna Pusic has said that she expects to receive from European Commission officials on Tuesday a list of judges to sit on an arbitral tribunal to decide on the Croatian-Slovenian border so that the two countries could decide together on three arbiters - the chair of the arbitral tribunal and two judges.
Pusic and Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar will meet in Brussels on Tuesday with European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele to discuss the implementation of the border arbitration agreement between Croatia and Slovenia.
Under the agreement, the Slovenian-Croatian border line should be defined by a five-member tribunal. Croatia and Slovenia should each appoint one arbiter, and choose together the other three from a list of potential arbiters to be drawn up by the European Commission. In the event that Zagreb and Ljubljana cannot agree on those three nominees, they will be chosen by the president of the International Court of Justice.
In an interview with Croatian Television on Saturday evening, Pusic said that under the arbitration agreement, all deadlines start running from the moment Croatia signs a Treaty of Accession with the EU, which happened on December 9.
The EC and the Enlargement Commissioner believe that the deadline within which agreement should be reached on the composition of the arbitral tribunal is 15 days, but that that deadline starts running from the moment the EC submits a list of potential arbiters, said Pusic.
"My position was that a certain delay could be tolerated, but that we should obtain a list of judges in the same calendar year in which we signed the Accession Treaty. Unfortunately, that did not happen," Pusic said, adding that she and Zbogar would talk with Fuele on Tuesday and that they had informed him in writing that they expected to be given a list of nominees for the arbitral tribunal at the talks.
She added that she did not expect any complications with Slovenia. "Both Slovenia and Croatia are in the same position now and are waiting for the EC to fulfil its obligation."
Asked how many people she expected to take part in a forthcoming EU entry referendum, Pusic said that some polls gave reason for optimism. "It would be important for a large number of people to participate in the vote, and we'll see what the outcome will be," she said, adding that a turnout of more than 60 percent would be excellent, but that any turnout above 50 percent would be good.
"I am very cautious. I expect a very good result but I'm preparing as if there were a danger of the referendum failing," the minister said.