The Slovenia Times

PMs Put Slovenia-Croatia Relations Back on Track


The relations between Slovenia and Croatia are good, Janša told a joint new conference with his Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović in Maribor.

"When it comes to the issue of the savings deposits at the Zagreb subsidiary of the defunct Slovenian bank LB, and potential threats to the balance sheet of the NLB bank, we were pleased with the assurance of the Croatian prime minister that everything in this field stays the same as agreed when Croatia was closing chapters for accession to the EU, including chapter four," Janša said.

He was referring to Croatia's government recent support for lawsuits by two Zagreb-based banks against the LB bank and its offshoot NLB, Slovenia's No. 1 bank, which was subsequently retracted after Slovenian protests, and Croatia's commitment as part of accession talks with the EU that the LB issue would be tackled as a matter of succession to the former Yugoslavia.

Janša said that Slovenia had assured Croatia today that it was respecting all the commitments given by the previous government and parliament regarding the resolution of the border dispute and other issues between the countries.

Milanović said that there was no open issue between the two countries, while technical issues also existed between all other countries and that these would be addressed at the level of the countries' joint commission.

"The most vital issues that had been a burden on our relations in the past few years, possibly even beyond reasonable degree, are now either in the hands of a tribunal or are agreed," the Croatian PM said.

"The same holds true for the LB issue, which we resolved quickly, if there was anything to resolve. There may have been a misunderstanding, since the commitments made by Croatia as a condition to close certain chapters in the EU accession talks simply bind us, regardless of whether they are useful for Croatia," Milanović said.

Asked whether Slovenia had pressured Croatia into backtracking on its decision on LB, Milanović said that the Croatian government had withdrawn its decision a week ago for being purposeless as the government was in no position to get involved in a lawsuit.

"The Croatian government did not change its position, we simply withdrew, as an act of good will, a document that has no legal consequences," Milanović said about the withdrawal of support for the lawsuits against LB and NLB.

The joint commission dealing with bilateral issues in energy, infrastructure, environmental protection is expected to meet before the summer. The Croatian part of the commission has been appointed, while the Slovenian government will make the appointments shortly, according to Janša.

Both prime ministers also discussed Croatia's accession to the EU with Janša reiterating that it was in Slovenia's strategic interest for the EU expand to Croatia and other countries of the Western Balkans, and that it was supporting what he said was the only strategy the EU had for this part of Europe.

He does not expect any difficulties in ratification of Croatia's EU accession treaty in the Slovenian parliament, anticipating that the ratification procedure will start by the beginning of the second half of the year.

Milanović too expects that Slovenia will ratify the Croatian accession treaty in line with its parliamentary procedure so that Croatia can become an EU member in line with the plans in July next year.

This would put the two countries in a whole new world as they would need to establish potential forms of cooperation and alliance in relation to other partners in the EU, considering the countries had a combined population of 6.5 million, which Milanović said was not much.

The Slovenian PM also pointed to new opportunities opened up with Croatia's accession to the EU, including cooperation in the construction of infrastructure and "productive use" of EU funds.

Janša was happy to note the growing economic cooperation between the two countries. Croatia is Slovenia's fifth most important trade partner, with trade between the countries topping EUR 2bn last year despite the crisis.

The meeting in Maribor was the second between the incumbent prime ministers. Janša said that both governments were keen for cooperation to be conducted and the remaining issues to be resolved in a friendly atmosphere.


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