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news 10 Jan 13

Slovenia Pressured Not to Delay Croatia's EU Accession

Brussels officials say they expect Slovenia to ratify Croatia's EU accession agreement on time, so that it can become a member state on July 1, Croatian and Slovenian media report.

Boris Pavelic
Zagreb

"Barrosso expects Slovenia to meet the deadline and ratify Croatia's accession agreement by July 1," the Slovenian daily Delo's Brussels correspondent reported on Wednesday.

The report followed a meeting of the Slovenian President, Borut Pahor, and the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrosso.

Pahor was visiting Brussels for the first time since he was elected Slovenian President on December 2, 2012. There he met both Barrosso and the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Croatian dailies have carried similar reports. The daily Jutarnji list quoted EU sources as saying that "Pahor understands that any possible delay to Croatia's EU membership would be extremely harmful".

Slovenia has warned that it could block ratification of Croatia's accession agreement if a 20-year-old dispute about the former Ljubljanska banka is not solved by July 1, 2013.

Twenty EU member states have ratified Croatia's accession agrement so far, and Slovenia is the only one not even to have started the parliamentary procedure for ratification.

Croatia says it has fulfilled all its obligations concerning the Ljubljanska banka, but Slovenia wants Croatia to withdraw government guarantees to three Croatian banks that have sued the former bank.

Many Croatian savers in Ljubljanska banka lost their money after the former Yugoslavia dissolved, triggering the dispute.

The Irish EU presidency, which started on January 1, says the bilateral dispute between Slovenia and Croatia over the bank should not be allowed to delay Croatia's accession.

Slovenia earlier blocked Croatia's EU negotiations between 2007 and 2009 because of a maritime border dispute.

The dispute was solved in 2009 by then Croatian and Slovenian Prime Ministers, Jadranka Kosor and Borut Pahor, with the help of the European Commission.

After both countries agreed to accept an arbitration court's findings in advance, Croatia's EU negotiations continued, succesfully ending in June 2011.

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