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Croatia and Slovenia have initialed a memorandum to solve a long-running dispute over a bank that has held up Slovenia's ratification of Croatia’s EU accession treaty.
Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic and Slovenian State Secretary Tone Kajzer have initiated a memorandum of understanding to solve a prolonged dispute over the former Ljubljanska Banka.
The memorandum will enable Slovenia to ratify Croatia’s EU accession treaty, as Ljubljana has refused to ratify the document until the bank dispute is resolved.
According to the memorandum, the two governments agree to find a solution for the unpaid foreign exchange savings of over 130,000 Croatians who say they deposited more than 150 million euro in the bank before Yugoslavia broke up in 1991.
The two countries will continue active negotiations under the auspices of the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements.
Croatia meanwhile pledges to suspend all court proceedings and ensure that no new court proceedings are launched, while Slovenia agreed to immediately start the ratification process of Croatia’s accession treaty.
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Thursday said he would initial the memorandum on March 11 in Slovenia.
Slovenia is the only EU member state that still has not started the ratification process of Croatia’s EU accession treaty.
A new bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka, was formed after the Ljubljanska Banka went bankrupt but it only took over the old bank’s capital, not its debts to foreign savers.
Stefan Fuele, the EU Enlargement Commissioner, welcomed the news that a mutually acceptable solution to the Ljubljanska Banka issue had been found.
"This is also a very good example how joint efforts in the area of good neighbourly relations bring benefits for both sides and provide basis to solve open issues," he said. "We are now looking forward to the formal adoption of the agreement," he added.
The European Commission is confident that all EU members will ratify the accession treaty in time for Croatia to join the EU on 1 July 2013. Slovenia became the EU member state in 2004.
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