After less than a week as the Slovenian-appointed arbitrator at the Arbitration Tribunal, Ronny Abraham quit the post, saying he agreed to the appointment “in the hope that this would help restore confidence between the Parties and the Arbitral Tribunal and to allow the process to continue normally, with consent of the both parties” but realized this is not the case hence it is no longer appropriate for him to serve on the tribunal (this via CPA press release). Obviously, all hell broke loose this side of the Alps where only days earlier foreign minister Karl “Teflon” Erjavec lauded Abraham’s appointment as a victory for Slovene diplomacy. Sneers about victory turning into a defeat were inevitable, as were renewed calls for his resignation. The irony, of course, was not lost on anyone. Or, rather, the iRonny.
Original picture via the ICJ
To be honest, other than driving Slovenian foreign policy from embarrassment to embarrassment, Erjavec is not really the man responsible here. I mean, sure, his bravado was unfounded as usual, but it was mostly for internal consumption rather than anything else. The man is sly enough not to have done any actual moves in this mess without express backing either of PM Cerar or the government as a whole. Indeed, Abraham was appointed by the government in an extraordinary session and – truth be told – Erjavec, for all his political prowess does not strike pengovsky as having the capacity of coming up with a heavyweight like Abraham, who currently serves as President of the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Which, incidentally, might be the clue to his resignation. Abraham stated in no unclear terms that the reason for his withdrawing is the fact that one of the parties (that be Croatia) has no intention of adhering to whatever decision the tribunal comes up with. Which is bad enough and not something you want on your resume, especially if you’re late to the party. But it could also indicates that he expect the case to land in front of ICJ some time in the future (something Croatia was hoping to achieve all along). But regardless od whether this happens or not, his message was clear: he will have nothing to do with cases where one of the parties reneges on a written and signed promise.
The arbitration, however, continues. Slovenia will again appoint an arbitrator, probably in the next two weeks (the usual suspect are already lining up in the media stream), the only difference being that the government will take much more flak over it. Both from the media (which have unreservedly echoed politicians’ cries of happiness first time around) as well as the opposition. In fact, while conspiracy theories about who’s really behind the shenanigans were initially on the back burner, they’re on full-throttle this time around. Stupid as they are.
initially, the word on the street was that the Sekolec-Drenik leak was orchestrated by either the Social Democrats (junior coalition partners) or the opposition SDS of Janez Janša. The logic of it being that the SD is a) in control of the intelligence community by virtue of having the defence portfolio and b) still pissed with PM Cerar over #Vebergate and the sale of Telekom Slovenije (which, incidentally, fell through). Or, in the case of the SDS, that the general assumption that Janša still has every fucking intelligence service penetrated with this people back from his heyday as the defence-mofo-in-chief.
Both of these theories have holes the size of Greek debt-to-GDP ratio in them. Namely: the SDS would have been a prime suspect, had it not been for the slight detail of Janša still rotting in jail at the time of the first Sekolec-Drenik convo. At that particular junction the Party was completely focused on getting the Glorious Leader from behind bars and could spare precious few resources to pull a stunt like that – and then sit on it. As for SD, the explanation is painfully simple. Right now, they can’t even tie their own shoelaces, let alone orchestrate what would in these circumstances amount to high treason and get away with it. Case closed on items One and Two
Then there’s the idea that it’s the Americans who were somehow punishing Slovenia for supposedly being too close to Russia. The largest-circulation Slovenian tabloid Slovenske novice even ran a story to that effect. Which is some of the biggest load of bullshit we’ve seen recently in this sorry excuse for a country. Because not only is the Slovenian-Russian hug-fest at the Russian Chapel on the Vršič mountain pass an annual event dating back a whole lotta years (cue Led Zeppelin), the incessant belief that this sorry excuse for a country is a battlefield for proxy wars between superpowers is, well, delusional at best. Damir Lucić in Rijeka-based Novi List took apart the Croatian aspect of this particular argument quite well (Croatian only). Basically, his argument goes along the lines that the Croatian notion of US being in Croatia’s corner on this one is weird (to put it mildly) in the context of US oil company pulling out of oil exploration/exploitation off the Croatian coast, citing border disputes of all things (this time with Montenegro where one of the richest oil fields is tought to be located).
Pengovsky’s favourite (not in the least because it was concocted by moi personally) is that it was the Austrians which picked up the Sekolec-Drenik international call (spying on international calls is perfectly legal, both are foreign nationals and Sekolec lives in Vienna), somehow delivered the goods to Croatia on account of them being the Austrians neighbour’s neighbour (one usually gets along better with those than one’s immediate neighbours) and rocked the boat a bit. On the other hand, Slovenia could have some dirt on Croatia, courtesy of the Dutch, of all people. Which would account for PM Cerar’s appointing his Dutch counterpart Rutte to cast a vote in Slovenia’s name during the last round of the Greek clusterfuck in Brussels (Cerar puzzled a lot of people with that move and took a lot of flak over it).
Had the above really been the case, it would have been one for the textbooks, but unfortunately is has about the same amount of relevance as any other conspiracy theory on this particular issue. Absolutely none. The Austrians even went on the record saying the expect the countries to stick to the agreement (this, admittedly, via the Slovene Press Agency).
Anyways. No matter how you look at it, this is simply yet another case of Hanlon’s Razor, i.e. attributing malice where stupidity suffices. And boy, there is a lot of stupid floating around in this debate.