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International law: the basis for settlement of remaining disputes in the region of the former SFRY

Vladimir Đuro Degan ; Law Faculty, University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (96 KB) str. 37-51 preuzimanja: 1.168* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Degan, V.Đ. (2005). Međunarodno pravo kao osnova rješavanja preostalih sporova na području bivšeg SFRJ. Adrias, (12), 37-51. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Degan, Vladimir Đuro. "Međunarodno pravo kao osnova rješavanja preostalih sporova na području bivšeg SFRJ." Adrias, vol. , br. 12, 2005, str. 37-51. Citirano 12.06.2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Degan, Vladimir Đuro. "Međunarodno pravo kao osnova rješavanja preostalih sporova na području bivšeg SFRJ." Adrias , br. 12 (2005): 37-51.
Degan, V.Đ. (2005). 'Međunarodno pravo kao osnova rješavanja preostalih sporova na području bivšeg SFRJ', Adrias, (12), str. 37-51. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 12.06.2021.)
Degan VĐ. Međunarodno pravo kao osnova rješavanja preostalih sporova na području bivšeg SFRJ. Adrias [Internet]. 2005 [pristupljeno 12.06.2021.];(12):37-51. Dostupno na:
V.Đ. Degan, "Međunarodno pravo kao osnova rješavanja preostalih sporova na području bivšeg SFRJ", Adrias, vol., br. 12, str. 37-51, 2005. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 12.06.2021.]

Many tragic conflicts on the soil of the former Yugoslavia could have been avoided if the politicians of the emerging States were willing to respect the opinions of experts in international law, and if they had at their disposal the trained and independently minded specia lists with a good knowledge of case law of the international courts and tribunals. It is to be noted that before the breakdown of the former Yugoslav Federation it was Croatia that proposed to other Republics on 12 October 1990 a draft of the Confederal Pact. It was based on the same legal principles as were one year later adopted in the Declaration of Alma Ata of 21 December 1991, on the basis of which the Community of Independent States replaced the former Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. That Declaration confi rmed the principle of respecting the existing frontiers. Most of ethnic Russians and Ukrai nians continued to live in the new independent States. Unlike that, the leadership of Serbia refused the fi rst three Opi nions by the Badinter Arbitration Commission, which were all issued on its own request in December 1991 and January 1992. However, the fi nal outcome of bloody conflicts, which ensued, was the radical decrease of the ethnic Serbian population, especially in Croatia and Kosovo. It is to be noted that Serbia and Mon tenegro recognizes nowadays all the legal principles, which it refused to respect at the beginning of the wars it waged for the crea tion of a Greater Serbia. Quite similar was the fate of the ethnic Croats in Bosnia-Her zegovi na. After their mutual recognition and the admission of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina into the membership of the UN, the then Croatian Government was not fully willing to respect the principle set in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. If all neighbouring States have had adhered to the territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina, tremendous human casualties and material damages could have been avoided.
There is the still pending but lasting dispute between Slovenia and Croatia over their maritime frontiers. Slovenia is a geographically disad vantaged State with a short coastline entitling it to a small area of the territorial sea off its coast. Its “area of delimitation” with Croatia encompasses only the waters inside the Bay of Pirano, and an area beyond that Bay traced by perpen dicular lines from its mouth between the caps of Savudria and Ronek, up to the bound ary of the territorial
sea with Italy as determined by the Treaty of Osimo of 1975. Slovenia, however, claims all waters inside the Bay of Pirano and, in addition, a physical access to the high sea in the Adriatic by a cor ridor through the Croatian territorial sea. This is not all. By a parliamen tary act, it “proclaimed” that it has its own continental shelf, probably in extension from that imaginary access to the high seas, and that it has fur ther more the right to proclaim its own exclusive economic zone. Slovenia has recen tly pro tested against an agreement between Italy and Croatia on partial designation of the delimitation line in their continental shelf. This means that Slovenia claims a part of the Croatian continental shelf alongside more than a half of the Adriatic sea, separating it from the Italian con tinental shelf. All these Slovenian claims are in deep contravention with the basic legal principle applicable on all maritime delimitations that “the land domi nates the sea”, i. e. that “ is the land which con fers upon the coastal State a right to the waters off its coast...”. These unlawful and dispropor tionate claims still refl ect the poisonous atmosphere which produced the tragic Balkan conflicts, of which Slovenia itself was spared. In the view of this author, the frontier between Croatia and Serbia (Voyvodina) will sooner or later follow the thalweg in the river of Danube. The delimitation of another part of the common frontier must be fi xed according to the principle of uti possidetis as from 8 October 1991 (the date of the Croatian independence). It would be, however, highly recommendable to provide in the fi nal agreement on delimitation the right of owners for an easy access to their property across the frontiers. The common frontiers should be controlled only by the police, and a demilitarized zone on its both sides should be established. As was stated above, the negotiations on these highly delicate matters should be led by legal experts under a hypothetical presumption that in case of their failure the dispute should be brought to the Inter national Court of Justice. However, its fi nal and obligatory judgment will not be necessary if the negotiators themselves agree on a solution, which would otherwise be decide upon by the Hague Court on the basis of its rich jurisprudence.

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