Croatia eyes EU membership by 2011

Croatia would continue bringing its legislation into line with the European Union in order to enter the pan-Europe bloc by 2011, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic said in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Friday.

Speaking after meeting his Hungarian counterpart Kinga Goencz, Jandrokovic said that Slovenia should not block Croatia’s accession process due to the two countries’ border dispute. 

Jandrokovic said that the bilateral border issue should be separated from Croatia’s accession process.

“There is full agreement on the matter by all sides, except Slovenia, unfortunately,” he said.

Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004, has not been able to finalize its land and sea borders with Croatia, its fellow former Yugoslav republic, since both declared independence in 1991.

The European Union proposed to provide mediation after Croatia’s EU accession talks were brought to a standstill in December due to Slovenia’s reservations on some chapters in which Croatia submitted documents that Slovenia deems prejudge the course of the disputed border.

Both Slovenia and Croatia have accepted the EU mediation but Croatia insisted that the mediation leads to an agreement on transferring the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ)in The Hague.

Slovenia has opposed taking the border issue to the ICJ unless the court uses the equity principle (ex equo et bono) in coming to a decision. This means the court can include any kind of circumstances, even if the valid international law does not (like historical facts), in order to reach a fairer verdict.

Goencz said that for Croatia it is important to maintain the pace of integration defined by the road map and she hope that “Croatia will enter the EU in the first half of 2011, when Hungary presides over the Union.”

She said that it was therefore necessary to separate a bilateral dispute from an EU candidate’s accession negotiations and that she hoped that this would happen soon.

Goencz, who arrived in Zagreb for an official visit, also held separate meetings with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic and Prime Minister Ivo Sanader earlier on Friday.

Mesic, Sanader and Bebic thanked Goencz for Hungary’s support to Croatia’s European Union and NATO membership aspirations.

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