Croatia Fears Slovenia Will Delay EU Accession

As time run shorts for Slovenia to ratify Croatia’s EU accession – if Croatia is to join the European club on July 1, as planned – leaders from both countries are to meet this week.”If Slovenia doesn’t ratify Croatia’s accession agreement soon, Croatia won’t join the EU on July 1, and all Croatian and Slovenian politicians know that scenario would be extremely bad,” the Croatian President, Ivo Josipovic, said on Monday.

Hannes Swoboda, leader of the Socialist group in the European Parliament, and a former European Parliament rapporteur for Croatia, on Monday said that Slovenia’s potential failure to ratify the accession agreement would be “a catastrophe not only for Croatia, but also for the reputation of Slovenia”.

Swoboda, who will visit Slovenia on Wednesday, said he expects “a quick solution” to the matter, adding that he expected help from Slovenia’s President, Borut Pahor.

The Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers, Karl Erjavec and Vesna Pusic, are to meet on Wednesday to try to find an agreement. Erjavec on Monday hinted that a solution “may be very close” but did not give details.

A solution would have to involve Croatia ceasing to back lawsuits against Slovenia’s Ljubljanska Banka in the Croatian courts, Erjavec explained.

The Slovenian parliament is holding up ratification of the accession agreement because of the unresolved dispute about the bank, which was liquidated after the Yugoslav state dissolved.

Many Croatian citizens lost their savings as a result, and the row over the bank has dogged relations between Zagreb and Ljubljana for two decades.

Several lawsuits against Ljubljanska have been filed in the courts in Croatia, and are backed by the Croatian government.

Slovenia wants Croatia to withdraw those government guarantees as a precondition for Slovenia’s ratification of Croatian EU accession.

Croatia says it has fulfilled all its obligations from the negotiations with Brussels, so Slovenia should ratify the accession agreement without extra preconditions.

If Pusic and Erjavec do not find a solution on Wednesday, the Slovenian parliament is unlikely to have enough time to ratify the Croatian accession agreement on time for Croatia to join in July.

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