"It is very encouraging that we managed to reach an agreement so quickly on such a delicate issue," Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović said, the Croatian news agency Hina reported.
The European Commission had sent Croatia and Slovenia a list of potential arbiters to choose from, with appointment to be determined by mutual agreement. The three judges agreed upon are Gilbert Guillaume of France and Bruno Simma of Germany, who have both served at the International Court of Justice, and Vaughan Lowe of Britain, a professor of international law at Oxford University.
The arbitration court is made up of the three judges suggested by the EU and one judge each from Croatia and Slovenia who must still be appointed. Croatia has put forward the name of Budislav Vukas and Slovenia that of Jernej Sekolec.
Relations warmed, accession on track
Croatia, an EU member hopeful, had its accession treaty signed at the European Council summit in December. The Croatian government has every interest in ending the dispute as all EU members, including Slovenia, must ratify the treaty for before Croatia can join.
When asked if the arbiters agreement had removed the obstacle to ratification of the accession treaty, Milanović said there had been possibility in the first place of it being rejected.
Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor praised the agreement, saying: "This is a great success of all those who took part in the peaceful resolution of the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute. I am highly optimistic about the work of the arbitral tribunal."
European Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle, who first brokered the deal to establish the arbitration court, praised the agreement on the judges.
"This common agreement is a very welcome signal for the positive development of the good neighbourly relations between the two countries, as well as for the Western Balkans region showing that even difficult issues can be best solved by means of dialogue and cooperation," he said in a statement.