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Croatia and Slovenia may now turn to the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements to help solve a dispute over Croatian deposits in the now-defunct Ljubljanska Banka.
Zdravko Rogic of Croatia and France Arhar of Slovenia have proposed that their countries' leaders send a joint letter to the Bank for International Settlements, BIS, to ask for help in resolving the dispute, while continuing bilateral talks.
The two men made the proposal after holding their third round of talks in the Slovenian lakeside resort of Bled on Thursday.
Rogic and Arhar were appointed by their respective governments to try and reach a solution to a dispute over savings deposited by Croatians in the Ljubljanska Banka branch in Zagreb when the two countries were still part of the Yugoslav federation. More than 130,000 Croatians say they deposited more than 150 million euros in the Slovenian bank before Yugoslavia broke apart in 1991.
The dispute has threatened to block Croatia's accession to the European Union.
Following their meeting on Thursday, Rogic and Arhar said they were hopeful that a solution acceptable to both countries would be found.
According to Arhar, this will be another attempt to find a solution with the assistance of the Basel-based bank, as the two experts try to persuade the other Yugoslav successor states that signed an agreement in Vienna in 2001 to accept such negotiations. A previous attempt failed.
Addressing the lawsuits lodged in Croatia against Ljubljanska Banka, Arhar played down the tone of recent statements from top Slovenian officials and said the suits were not new so "they should not hamper dialogue concerning the problem of the Ljubljanska Banka".
"These lawsuits as such cannot be an obstacle to the continuation of the process," Arhar said.
Top Slovenian politicians have said they expect the Croatian government to withdraw its powers of attorney to the Croatian banks Zagrebacka Banka and Privredna Banka Zagreb for lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka before Croatian courts as they believe they were granted in violation of Croatia's international commitments.
Rogic said that the relations between him and Arhar were excellent and that both were willing to continue seeking a solution.
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