Slovenia keeps EU talks with Croatia frozen

Croatia's efforts to conclude EU entry talks next year hit a new snag this week when Slovenia again blocked its neighbour's progress in talks, diplomats said.

Slovenia keeps EU talks with Croatia frozen

Croatia's efforts to conclude European Union entry talks next year hit a new snag this week when Slovenia again blocked its neighbour's progress in membership negotiations, diplomats said.

Slovenia kept talks with Croatia frozen for about year in many policy areas over a border dispute, making it impossible for the ex-Yugoslav republic to wrap them up in 2009.

Although this dispute was recently resolved, Slovenia has blocked the opening of talks in three other areas during a meeting of EU and Croatian negotiators on Monday.

"We have reservations," a Slovenian diplomat said, saying they may be removed early next year.

The diplomat did not specify the nature of the reservations but the controversial areas cover environment, fisheries and foreign and defence policy.

A diplomat from Sweden, which chairs the talks as the EU's current president, confirmed there would not be any opening of talks on any new policy areas, known as "negotiating chapters".

Croatia's goal to become the EU's 28th member in 2012 could be jeopardised unless accession negotiations finish next year.

Still, Zagreb will make some progress on Monday, by concluding negotiations in two policy areas -- free movement of services and social policy.

This would increase the number of agreed policy areas to 17, out of the total of 33. Croatia has so far opened talks on 28 chapters.

Some of the toughest areas are still ahead, notably on judicial reform and competition policy, which concerns the fate of ailing shipyards kept alive by high state subsidies.

It must also demonstrate progress in fighting corruption and organised crime and on cooperation with a U.N. tribunal on wars in former Yugoslavia.

Reuters
Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2009, 00:15
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