Barroso: Slovenia-Croatia dispute is bilateral issue

resizerThe European Commission wants Croatia and Slovenia to find a negotiated solution to their border dispute so that Croatia could join the European Union, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in Brussels on Tuesday evening.

“There is a Croatian-Slovene bilateral issue and we would like the two countries to solve it. We are working a lot with Croatia so it can become an EU member. Negotiations are making progress, but we want the two countries to solve their difficult bilateral issue through negotiation,” Barroso told reporters after meeting Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

Barroso and Sanader held talks after attending a meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament.

Asked what would happen if Slovenia continued to block Croatia’s EU accession negotiations, Barroso said that one should not be negative about it and that instead of exchanging recriminations a solution should be sought.

In the afternoon, Sanader had met several leaders of the most important political groups in the European Parliament to discuss the issue of the Slovene blockade.

“This was a very hard day, but also a very fruitful day. It was crowned with a meeting with parliamentarians from the largest political group, the EPP,” Sanader said after the meeting, which was held behind closed doors.

Sanader said that a dozen MPs took the floor and supported Croatia’s proposal that the blockade of negotiations should be lifted and that a solution should be sought that would be acceptable to both sides.

“An acceptable solution is one based on legal arguments, on international conventions, and there is a UN body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, to deal with it,” Sanader said.

He noted that the ICJ delivered a judgement on Tuesday in a maritime border dispute between Romania and Ukraine, adding that “this should give additional impetus to our Slovene friends to unblock the negotiations and to the two state commissions to complete their work so we can go to the International Court of Justice.”

The chair of the EPP group, Joseph Daul, welcomed the Croatian proposal that the problem be solved before a court, saying that he wanted Croatia to join the EU as soon as possible.

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