Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/croatia/slovenia : Prague Postpones Accession Conference with Croatia

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/croatia/slovenia : Prague Postpones Accession Conference with Croatia

Article excerpt

On the request of Slovenia, the Czech EU Presidency decided, on 24 March, to postpone by one moth, until 24 April, the intergovernmental conference with Croatia, whose traditional aim is to open and close new chapters in EU accession talks. Justifying its decision, Prague said it hoped for "a positive result" by this time of an ongoing European Commission-led mediation between the two countries on their border dispute.

The decision came just three days before the scheduled 27 March opening of the intergovernmental conference. A diplomat familiar with the issue explained that until the last moment the Czech Presidency had tried to exert pressure on Slovenia and win guarantees that it would soon lift its blockade of Croatia's EU entry talks.

In a statement, Prague said that the issue was discussed between Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor at their recent meeting on the margins of the 20 March European Council. According to the document, both leaders "confirmed their joint interest in a quick resumption of the accession negotiations" with Croatia.

Commenting on Prague's decision, another diplomat said that "it would be pointless to hold a conference when it had been obvious for some time that Slovenia would not allow the opening or closing of any new negotiating chapters on 27 March". "We all know that Ljubljana hasn't changed its position and continues to block Croatia's accession talks," he explained.

"ABSURD"

Meanwhile, a stronger reaction came from Zagreb, with the Croatian Foreign Ministry describing Slovenia's continued blockade of its accession talks as an "absurd" attempt to incorporate issues of a bilateral nature into Croatia's EU accession process. …

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