Posted 27.07.2012 12:06:03 UTC
Updated 07.08.2012 14:05:14 UTC
Croatia is expected to be the 28th member of the EU as of July 1, 2013 provided that the requisite approval from individual parliaments is received and Zagreb fulfills the remaining jobs it has to do on time. However, the slow pace of approval in the individual parliaments of member countries of Croatia's accession agreement makes Zagreb even more impatient. In need of getting the approval of 16 more parliaments, Croatia seems to be rather concerned over the new barriers Slovenia has made public.
Croatia who started its membership negotiations on October 3, 2005 wrapped them up on June 30, 2011. After the signing of the Accession Agreement on December 9, 2011, Croatian people have opted for EU membership with the referendum held on January 22, 2012. Zagreb has been tasked by Brussels with keeping up the judicial reform, punishing war criminals, re-structuring shipyards and speeding up the translation of EU aqui communataure into Croatian before its admission into the EU.
The parliaments of Bulgaria, Romania, Greek Cypriot Sector of Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Malta, Lithuania and Latvia have so far ratified Croatia's EU accession agreement. Zagreb is expecting some problems to emerge during the approval process of Estonia, France, Luxembourg and Sweden. What is more, Croatia is well aware of the fact that the process of approval is much too slow in some countries because of bloated bureaucracy. A certain degree of uncertainty also exists for Croatia where Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are concerned as those countries are busy trying to tackle their severe economic problems. They are too preoccupied with their own economic and social malaise to think of Croatia. On the other hand, some EU countries want to see the Croatia progress report before they give the required approval to Zagreb. The bickering between the government and the opposition in Poland is more than likely to cast a shadow on the approval of Croatia's accession agreement.
As a matter of fact, the biggest barrier to Croatia's accession to the EU comes from Slovenia. The border dispute Slovenia and Croatia previously had caused Slovenia to openly threaten Croatia with obstructing its EU membership. The 18 year dispute between the two countries was resolved in September 2009 with their consensus to resort to international arbitration to find a solution.
Just as Zagreb thought that the Slovenia problem was eliminated, the unreturned cash of Croatian citizens deposited in a Slovenian bank called Lublanska has become another source of tension between the two countries. Before the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, Croatian citizens had a total saving of 172 million Euros in the Lublanska bank. Croatians have filed lawsuits with Croatian courts against the Lublanska bank over their unreturned cash. None of the lawsuits have been concluded in favour of Croatian citizens. However, Slovenian officials are wary that Croatian courts can pass verdicts against that bank once Croatia joins the EU. If Croatia enters the EU, a ruling by a Croatian court is certainly binding on Slovenia and that is why Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Eryavets , in a statement he made on July 23, 2012 , said that opening lawsuits in Croatia against the Lublanska bank should be prevented for Slovenia to approve Croatia's EU accession agreement.
However, Eryavets did say that the problem about the Croatians' savings in the Lublanska bank should be sorted out within the framework of the negotiations over the distribution of former Yugoslavia's assets. Eryavets said further that the former governments of Croatia and Slovenia reached consensus on such a formula to smooth out the problem., and accused Zagreb of not delivering its pledge in that regard.
Croatians perceive Slovenia's insistence regarding the Lublanska bank as blackmail and criticize Slovenia for exploiting Croatia over its EU accession process. Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic has said the matter of his country's EU accession agreement approval should be considered separate from the Lublanska bank issue. Some analysts point to the fact that the Slovenia government’s performance has not recently been bright and Slovenians' support of their government is on the wane. Therefore, the new tension created with Zagreb out of the blue is believed to be a gambit to shift attention from the real problem Slovenia faces . Whatever the reason, it seems that Slovenia is going to be a headache for Zagreb in the months to come.