Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Ep Reviews Accession Progress of Croatia, Turkey and Fyrom

Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Ep Reviews Accession Progress of Croatia, Turkey and Fyrom

Article excerpt

The European Parliament voiced, on 12 March, its great disappointment with the continued blockage of Croatia's accession talks over the country's border dispute with Slovenia. In a resolution on Croatia's 2008 progress report, drafted by MEP Hannes Swoboda (PES, Austria), the Parliament recalled that bilateral issues such as the one concerning the border disagreement between Croatia and Slovenia "should not be an obstacle to accession".

MEPs also voiced their support for the European Commission's mediation efforts, which aim to settle the dispute and allow Croatia to continue its accession talks without further delay. They underlined that the mediation should be based on international law and jurisprudence.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn proposed in January that a team of mediators led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari become involved in resolving the border dispute. Commenting on his initiative preceding the vote, Rehn urged Croatia and Slovenia to agree "as soon as possible" on the method of solving the row. He recalled that Croatia and Slovenia, by accepting the negotiating framework on the basis of which Zagreb is conducting accession talks with the EU, agreed to a peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The document says that parties to a dispute should seek a settlement through negotiation, mediation, reconciliation, arbitration, a judicial solution or in some other peaceful way chosen by the parties. "They must agree on any method they choose. I sincerely wish it would happen as soon as possible," Rehn said.

Speaking on behalf of the Czech EU Presidency, Alexandr Vondra, the country's deputy prime minister for European affairs, called on both Croatia and Slovenia to "urgently" find a solution to the dispute and confirmed his country's strong commitment to take forward Zagreb's accession talks.

Both Vondra and Rehn agreed with the text of the resolution that Croatia had made great progress in accession negotiations and that the talks can still be concluded by the end of the year provided the current blockage is ended soon. …

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