Slovenia puts up another hurdle on Croatia’s road to EU

Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar said on Friday (June 18th) that Croatia will not be able to wrap up its EU accession talks unless it opens its financial market to Slovenia’s biggest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB). The central bank in Zagreb blocked access until the former Ljubljanska Banka (LB) settles its debts to Croatian citizens. The NLB was established as a separate entity as a result of a 1994 decision by the Slovenian parliament, while all unsettled liabilities remained with the LB. Zagreb argues that LB owes 172m euros to Croatian citizens who deposited the funds before the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.

Slovenia, however, insists that the issue should be resolved as part of succession talks among former Yugoslav republics led at the Basel-based Bank of International Settlements. “In line with conditions for the closure of the negotiating chapter … on free flow of capital, Slovenia expects that Croatia will not make it impossible for NLB to enter the Croat financial market,” Zbogar told Reuters. Croatia hopes to wrap up its EU accession negotiations by the beginning of 2011 and join the bloc in 2012.

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