GeriGündem EU cancels Croatia accession talks as Slovenia border row simmers
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EU cancels Croatia accession talks as Slovenia border row simmers

EU cancels Croatia accession talks as Slovenia border row simmers
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BRUSSELS - The European Union announced Wednesday that it has cancelled indefinitely the next round of EU membership talks with Croatia as a border row with its neighbor Slovenia undermines progress.

"The Czech EU presidency has decided to cancel the intergovernmental accession conference with Croatia planned for June 26," a statement said. No new date was given.  


The 18-year-old border dispute has blocked Croatia’s EU membership talks since December, and Slovenia insists it be resolved before the accession negotiations resume.


The row involves a small piece of land and sea and dates back to 1991, when the two proclaimed independence from the former Yugoslavia.


Slovenia joined the EU in 2004 and Croatia hopes to become the EU’s 28th member by 2011, but that timetable might now be under threat.


The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, has been trying to broker an accord, and proposed in April to set up a tribunal to arbitrate, but little headway has been made, with talks last Thursday breaking up in acrimony.


"Despite substantial efforts to facilitate a solution to the country’s border dispute with Slovenia, Croatia’s accession talks remain blocked and no new chapters can be formally opened or closed," the statement said.


"The (EU) presidency deeply regrets the fact that despite numerous attempts by the presidency and the European Commission to help find a way forward the negotiations have not progressed," it said.


Slovenia has viewed EU mediation as a way to resolve the row, but Croatia considers it simply a stepping stone to a resolution before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.


A key point for Slovenia is securing free access to international shipping waters by getting a corridor that would cross Piran Bay, which is currently controlled by Croatia.


On Monday, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country takes over the EU presidency on July 1, called for "a period of reflection in both countries", and said Sweden would not propose any initiatives until the sides were ready.

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