Rehn says Croatia may still end EU talks this year

European Union enlargement chief said urged quick progress in the negotiations which have been overshadowed by a border row with Slovenia.

Rehn says Croatia may still end EU talks this year

Croatia may still wrap up European Union accession talks this year, the bloc's on Friday, urging quick progress in the negotiations which have been overshadowed by a border row with Slovenia.

EU-member Slovenia has vetoed 11 -- roughly one-third -- of negotiating areas in Zagreb's EU bid because of a dispute over small parts of their land and sea border that dates back to the time when the two countries quit communist Yugoslavia in 1991.

Croatia has long set itself the target of concluding talks this year and becoming EU member in 2010 or 2011.

"So far Croatia has been working effectively towards this target timeline and it is possible still to maintain this target timeline," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told a news conference.

Rehn said that to be able to wrap up accession talks this year, Croatia should conclude negotiations in a number of areas at the next meeting with EU officials planned for the end of March, and open talks in other areas.

"I plead to the leaders of the two countries that they would now counter this negative trend," Rehn said.

He urged them to respond by early March to his proposal for Finnish Nobel peace prize winner Marti Ahtisaari to mediate in the dispute.

Croatia said on Friday Prime Minister Ivo Sanader would meet his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at a popular Slovenian golf resort near the border with Croatia on Tuesday. It will be their first meeting since Pahor took office last September.

Croatia's President Stjepan Mesic said on Tuesday Zagreb might not complete EU entry talks this year, the first official to concede that Croatia's EU timetable may be off track.

Mesic said a delay could not be entirely blamed on the row with Slovenia, but also on delays in reforms.

Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Şubat 2009, 18:52
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