Slovenia to block Croatia's EU accession over banking row
(LJUBLJANA) - Slovenia will not ratify Croatia's EU accession planned for 2013 unless a deal is reached over a bank savings row between the two former Yugoslav states, a Slovenian official said Thursday.
"Only after (the row) is solved in accordance with international acts, we will be able to start the ratification procedure for Croatia's accession to the European Union," the head of a parliamentary committee and member of the ruling centre-right coalition, Jozef Horvat, told journalists Thursday.
He urged "Croatia's leadership to meet the international commitments it has taken, including the agreement over internationally brokered talks on the distribution of the former Yugoslavia's wealth and other commitments it took during EU's accession talks".
Over 130,000 Croatians claim they deposited 160 million euros ($207 million) in savings in Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka before the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.
But in a bid to secure EU accession, Zagreb in 2010 agreed to resolve the issue through internationally brokered talks on the distribution of the former Yugoslavia's wealth, rather than through separate legal proceedings.
In a bid to find a solution to the dispute, banking experts from the two countries, Slovenia's France Arhar and Croatia's Zdravko Rogic, met in August and earlier this week but failed to find common ground for a solution.
"For the moment, I can't be satisfied with the progress made in talks between the two experts," Slovenian Foreign Minister Karel Erjavec told journalists ahead of a meeting of the foreign affairs parliamentary committee.
"Arhar has a mandate until the end of the year, if a solution is not reached by then, that means no bilateral solution can be found," Erjavec said.
Croatia still needs Slovenia and the other EU members to ratify its European Union accession treaty so that it can join the 27-member bloc by mid-2013 as planned.
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