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Slovenia to Ratify Croatia EU Entry Quickly, Minister Say

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Slovenia will ratify Croatia’s European Union membership quickly once issues surrounding Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. are solved, Foreign Minister Karel Erjavec said.

Croatia, which needs Slovenia to ratify its entry to the bloc in July 2013, has barred NLB from operating on its soil while a dispute over money owed to Croats by the lender’s predecessor remains unsettled. The government in Zagreb yesterday asked Slovenia in a letter to jointly approach the Bank for International Settlements to find a solution even though the Basel-based bank rejected a mediator’s role in 2010.

“The letter from yesterday has accelerated the ratification process,” Erjavec told reporters in the capital Ljubljana today. “If Croatia also withdraws the lawsuits it filed over the Slovenian bank’s debt at Croatian courts, then the ratification process could move on quickly.”

Slovenia, a European Union member since 2004, must ratify Croatia’s accession contract before its southern neighbor becomes the 28th member of the world’s largest trading bloc next year. The dispute has strained relations between the two countries ever since they gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 along with a border dispute that the two nations agreed to settle via a special tribunal.

The Ljubljana-based bank’s debt is estimated at 312 million deutsche marks ($204 million), the former German currency that was widely used in former Yugoslavia.

The row over NLB has been evaluated by experts from both countries, France Arhar and Zdenko Rogic, who will meet in the Alpine resort of Bled, Slovenia, tomorrow and propose a final solution, according to Erjavec.

After that, the Slovenian government will look into the proposal and start the ratification process, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Cerni in Ljubljana at bcerni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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