Croatian FM Confident of Solution in LB Issue


"The relations between the two countries are like a roller-coaster, they have their ups and downs," Pusić told the STA on the margins of the Bled Strategic Forum.

Nevertheless, she believes Slovenia and Croatia are going in a positive direction, since they have at least found a way in which a solution should be found.

According to Pusić, naming two experts to discuss the LB issue – France Arhar from Slovenia and Zdravko Rogić from Croatia, who held their first meeting last week – increased the possibility of "addressing the issue point by point and not by [each side] only digging in".

"I believe a [mutually agreeable] solution exists and if there is anyone who is capable of proposing it, it is Arhar and Rogić," she stressed.

The Croatian foreign minister is not troubled by the two experts only having made an overview of the situation and believes a solution could be found already after three or four meetings, which would mean that Slovenia could ratify Croatia's EU accession treaty by Christmas.

Moreover, she stressed she saw no reason why the ratification should be linked to the issue, as Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec hinted earlier this year. "But of course it takes two to tango," she added.

If Slovenia did not ratify the accession treaty by the end of the year, it can still do so by 1 July 2013 for Croatia to become an EU member, she noted.

However, she pointed out it would neither be good for Croatia nor for Slovenia if the treaty were ratified by all the other EU members except for Slovenia.

Pusić said that the LB issue was reopened by the Slovenian side out of fear that the decisions of Croatian courts on the matter would become valid in Slovenia once Croatia joined the EU.

She denied that the Croatian government had reauthorised two Croatian banks for the lawsuits against Slovenia, effectively reopening the issue, and argued that the Croatian Supreme Court had ruled that no new authorisations were needed and that this simply fell within the competence of the finance minister without the need for additional approval by the cabinet.

Approval for court action was already given by finance ministers in 1994 and 2000, she explained, adding that she saw no reason why the approval should be withdrawn. If a different solution is found, it can replace the judicial solution, she argued.

The minister further explained that the previous agreement between Slovenia and Croatia to resolve the issue at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel failed, as the bank said this was not in its jurisdiction.

Furthermore, she said the issue could not be resolved as part of succession after former Yugoslavia, as Slovenia would have it. Croatia and Slovenia cannot discuss succession on their own, while other four ex-Yugoslavian republics refuse to talk about the issue, Pusić stressed.