'Croatia may end EU talks by June '10 if Slovenia row solved'

The EU tried without success for six months to mediate in the dispute.

'Croatia may end EU talks by June '10 if Slovenia row solved'

Croatia could complete its European Union accession talks in the first six months of next year if it resolves a border row with Slovenia and carries out reforms, the EU's enlargement commissioner said on Wednesday.

Croatia had hoped to finish its accession negotiations by the end of this year and join the 27-country bloc in 2010 or 2011, but its progress has been delayed by the border dispute. The EU called off a round of accession talks at the end of June after its attempted mediation in the border row collapsed.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee that Croatia must also cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia on war crimes committed in the 1990s.

"If Croatia meets the outstanding benchmarks in time, especially in relation to the judiciary and ICTY cooperation and if the border issue with Slovenia is resolved soon, we may be able to conclude the accession negotiations in the course of the first half of next year, 2010," he said.

Rehn said the atmosphere between the two countries had improved and this was cause for a "certain cautious optimism" that their border dispute could be resolved soon.

The row dates back to the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. Slovenia wants direct access to international waters in the northern Adriatic which would force Croatia to cede a portion of the sea which it considers its own.

Croatia says it is a bilateral problem that should be resolved before an international court. The EU tried without success for six months to mediate in the dispute.



Reuters

Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2009, 11:31
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