Croatia, Slovenia agree on last bilateral EU hurdle

Croatia and neighbour Slovenia have found a solution to the last major bilateral obstacle that was blocking Zagreb’s EU entry talks — cross-border banking access, Slovenia’s Prime Minister Borut Pahor said yesterday.

“We broke the last really big problem. We found a solution for it,” Pahor told a news conference yesterday. The issue involved access for Slovenia’s largest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), to the Croatian market.

Pahor said the Croatian government confirmed it was ready to continue talks about NLB as part of former Yugoslav states’ succession negotiations led by the Basel-based Bank of International Settlements (BIS), as Slovenia had demanded.

The Croatian government was not available for immediate comment but its website showed that the cabinet was due to approve further talks with Slovenia under BIS auspices.

Slovenia said in June Croatia would not be able to conclude its membership talks, started in 2005, until it opens its market to NLB.

Pahor and Croatian counterpart Jadranka Kosor met in July and said a solution would be found within three months.

Croatia’s central bank has said it was not ready to give consent to NLB to buy a bank or open a subsidiary in Croatia because of an unresolved dispute involving NLB’s predecessor, the now-defunct Ljubljanska Banka.

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