The Definitive Guide to the Arbitrage Agreement Between Slovenia and Croatia, pt. 3

Here it is, yet another instalment of everything you wanted to know about the Arbitrage Agreement but had the smarts to wait for pengovsky 🙂 For parts 1 and 2 click here and here respectively

PM Pahor in debate with ministers Žbogar, Lukšič and Svetlik (source: Baž Samec/Delo)

Tee-minus-eleven days and the referendum campaign is raging with full force. As pengovsky writes this, the parliament is in yet another extraordinary session, debating what opposition SDS calls “new and important circumstances” regarding the Arbitrage Agreement. What Janez Janša et al. claim is that Slovenia somehow accepted unilateral declaration Croatia passed alongside its ratification of the Agreement, saying basically that the agreement means what Croatia wants it to mean.

SDS and the rest of opponents of the agreement argue that since Croatia said both Slovenia and Croatia will have notified the Swedish presidency of its unilateral declaration, Slovenia somehow agreed to Croatian interpretation of the agreement, hence PM Borut Pahor and his government committed an act of high treason.


The problem – or rather the “problem” – is that Slovenia did no such thing. Croatia’s declaration was entirely unilateral and was in no way, shape or form a part of the Arbitrage Agreement itself. Being repeatedly told that by PM Pahor predictably did not convince the opposition. If anything it only amplified cries of treason, PM’s incompetence and sell-out of this country’s vital interests. As always, on live TV. But then came the twist.

Even before the extraordinary session started Swedish ambassador to Slovenia Inger Ultvedt said that Swedish government received no joint statement other that the fact that the Arbitrage Agreement is to be signed and its signature witnessed by Swedish PM. She added that no unilateral statement was part of the Agreement itself. That, however, apparently wasn’t enough. The opposition still went on and on and on like a the proverbial Energizer bunny until the US ambassador to Slovenia Bradley Freden said the same. He went even further, saying that Croatian declaration was unilateral in every sense of the word

An then came the flip-flop. Less than two hours after US Embassy went public, Janša’s SDS sent out a press release saying that US and Swedish statements make the entire Agreement null and void, because Croatia lied about that statement being joint, when it was actually unilateral. Since international agreements are to be executed in good faith and Croatian behaviour was anything but, the Agreement cannot be executed and is therefore dead.

Let me run that by you again: Opposition loudly claims (citing Croatian sources) that Slovenia agreed to Croatian declaration about what exactly the Agreement is all about. Slovenian government denies that and points out that Slovenia passed a similar declaration which claims exactly the opposite. It adds that both declarations mean didly-squat because the Agreement itself stipulates that no unilateral actions apply to the solution of the border issue. Opposition is not convinced and calls an extraordinary session of the parliament to discuss these “important new developments”.

As the debate commences, both Sweden and the US (the former witnessing the signature of the Agreement while the latter reportedly man-handling Croatia into accepting the deal) say that Croatian declaration is entirely unilateral and as such has no effects with regard to the Agreement. At this point one would expect the opposition to cease debating as the reason for the parliamentary session no longer exists. Wrong. Instead, they call the Agreement null and void because Croatia cheated. I’d have to say.. a sphincter says what? Exactly!

Same Old Tactics of Epic Bullshit

Croatian unilateral declaration was of course only the sorriest of excuses for the opposition (SDS, SLS and SNS) to yet again hijack parliamentary Rules and Procedures and to debate ad nauseam the finer points of epic bullshit. The debate was going over all the pros and cons time and time again, each time getting more personal and more below the belt. No wonder it didn’t stop after US and Swedish statements, because the debate was never meant to address “new and important developments” but rather just to start yet another round of verbal slaughter and see who comes out on top.

But hey, you can’t blame them, can you? These tactics worked before, not in the least in the summer of 2004 when Janez Janša and his SDS went after LDS and then PM Tone Rop, and effectively won the elections. But back then LDS and its leadership were tired, paralysed and arrogant. Janša tried again in 2007, just after Danilo Türk was elected president and then again just prior to 2008 elections which he in the end lost. But this time not only did it not work, but it positively backfired. SDS’ arguments crumbled into sun dust and the final result is that opposition remains opposed, while the government argues in favour of the Agreement. And since these are exactly the same positions as in the beginning, one could say that Janez Janša just wasted a joker.


Namely, if opponents of the Agreement were on top in the debate then we could have called the session just a waste of time. But since polls show that a majority of those who intend to vote actually support the Agreement, then yesterday’s stalemate spells disaster for Janša and good times for those who actually wish to see this thing solved in a fair way. Not only did Delo, nation largest daily poll an impressive 52 percent in favour of the Agreement and only 24 against, but even Faculty of Applicative Social Sciencies in Nova Gorica, widely regarded as leaning towards Janša and his SDS polled 36 percent in favour and 31 against.

This goes to show that SDS is rapidly failing to turn the referendum on the Arbitrage Agreement into a referendum on Pahor’s government, whose approval ratings linger in low thirties. Having people to vote more or less on merit and much less out of anger is one of Pahor’s key goals and so far he seems to be getting his point accross. Much will of course depend on the voter turnout, which is at this time projected not to go above 35 percent. Which is criminally low but totally common for Slovenian referendums. The record holder for the lowest turnout if of course sill former PM Janez Janša whose referendum on regions in 2008 failed spectacularly with a mere 11 percent turnout.

This will have to do it for today, although we haven’t covered every subject announced in the previous chapter. However, next up will be an interesting story about some people struggling not to lose face and still others struggling with MS Word 😀

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

15 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to the Arbitrage Agreement Between Slovenia and Croatia, pt. 3”

  1. Well, some other pools (such as Valicon and Episcenter) show different results. However, I am arbitrary leaning towards the pool of Faculty of the applied social sciences (as Pengovski mentioned its major professors are politically leaning towards Mr. Janša). The results of this pool are also consistent with the results of the Mediana pool conducted between Monday and Wednesday and published today (40 Y-32 N) with forecaste turnout 42%.

    There is no way of telling how the debate in the Assembly on Wednesday influenced those results, however, since it back fired badly for the opposition, one could expect that no major gains were made for them.

    It is expected that turnout will be the major factor in the result, so Janša tactics is just to get most of its supporters to vote. According to some previously conducted pools, the higher educated people are less likely to vote for Mr. Janša thus the campaign will probably become even more primitive in the final week.

  2. Thank you for the link. I was going to link to your post tommorow (I still intend to), but thx nevertheless.

    As far as “biased political spin” is concerned, I’m not the one holding a political office, so the term is not applicable. The post, however, is highly opinionated. This goes for this blog in general and I never claimed otherwise 😀

    I do believe, however, that readers of this blog have in the past four years had ample opportunity to read about various aspects of the Slovene-Croat border dispute, both historical and political and have probably formed their own opinions about the matter, hopefully not just subscribing to my take on the matter.

  3. Oh, give me a break! It takes to hold political office to write politically biased or opinionated articles? You can’t be serious 🙂

  4. Politically biased is not the same as opinionated. Politically biased would (in my book at least) mean that one makes his party line look good no matter what. You’ll be hard pressed to find something like that on this blog.

    You will, however, find lots of opinions, some of them even belong to me 🙂

  5. I have to agree with Pengovsky on this one.

    However, since the pools do show very different results (which is surprising – since I remember that pools in the race for the US president were very consistent with differences only in numbers but not in the rank of alternatives) it is possible that the agreement will not be supported by the referendum.
    Assuming that there are no manipulations (although there are speculations about that which are yet to be proven – we know for instance Mr. Janša publicly expressed skepticism on the Ninamedia that he was even sued for) it is probably related to different samples?

    It is also probably true that Slovenia internation positions will be much weaker if the agreement is not supported.

  6. “Voiced opponents of the agreement cross the left-right political divisions and include fierce opponents of opposition leader Janez Janša, former and current members of coalition parties, experts on maritime law, as well as founding fathers of the independent Slovenia like France Bu?ar or respected intellectuals like Boris Pahor.”

    (Post ending with “The opponents of the referendum rightly claim…”)

    This excerpt from Žiga Turk’s blog, which of course does not mention a long list of the agreement’s supporters or the fact that polls show between a quarter and a fifth of SDS voters in favour of the agreement, is a shining example of a politically unbiased blog post. That will do as tonight’s light entertainment.

  7. The list of agreement supporters or opponents are actually not a valid argument. Ii is argument out of authority, thus a logical mistake. A university full professor should know that.

  8. @pengovsky Your book is not my book. Not at all. I think people can be politically biased (or unbiased) regardless of their political party membership.

    @rx170 That celebrities who usually do not support Janša are with him on this matter is a fact. It illustrates that on this matter Slovenia is not split along the party lines. It is not an argument for or against the agreement and is not written in the “arguments” section of the article.

  9. @Žiga

    As Filomena already mentioned that you make a a methodological mistake stating only the list of opponents regardless of their political background. If you insist with this way of argumentation then you should also mention people like Rajko Pirnat.
    Furthermore, you should also mention that none of the opponents (with exception of professor Pavliha) is an expert in international law.

    I know you are politically with Mr. Janša (I have no problem with that) and it is not my intention to write a review of your blog since it is not a scientific work in the first place. However, in an objective analysis ALL facts regarding the agreement debate should be mentioned. Without them your blog is not a valid analysis and can be regarded as political propaganda.

  10. One thing we should do in Slovenia is get rid of the “unbiased” myth. Any opinion is biased from the other’s point of view and the same goes for the media. It is essential to stop fooling around “neutrality”, and being “balanced” and instead admit and define our positions. Slovenian mediascape has sustained a shitload of damage the recent past in this name.
    What I mean is that (politically enforced and advertised) balancing in order to achieve this imaginative “equilibrium”, perceived as the essence of media quality, screws up the journalistic professionalism (attitude towards facts versus opinions, quality of sources, relevance of information etc.)

  11. @Jacob: I do agree do a point. I believe there are areas of journalism where it is possible to give straightforward facts without a bias, but no such thing as complete neutrality exists. Even by choosing the topics to cover, journalists/editors set the issues for the public to focus on (or forget about). Any summarising necessarily involves making choices regarding what is to be omitted and what emphasized. And then there are the opinion pages. Sure, people appreciate straightforward information, but they also crave analysis by (not an unbiased, but preferably uncorrupted) a person with a similar view of the world, but a better understanding of the issue’s background and the involved players and more time to ponder its implications.

    It’s fine to have a plurality of opinions. More than fine, actually. There are facts and then there are interpretations.

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