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Nov 04, 2009 16:37 EEST
November 4 (SeeNews) - Croatia and European Union member Slovenia agreed on Wednesday to take their long-standing border dispute to an international arbitration tribunal, make possible the lifting of a key obstacle on Croatia's EU accession path, Croatian state-run news agency Hina reported.
Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and her Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor signed the deal in Stockholm after the Croatian parliament had approved the move earlier in the week.
The agreement provides for the establishment of an international arbitration tribunal to determine the course of the border at sea and on land, Slovenia's contact with the high seas and the use of relevant maritime areas, Hina (www.hina.hr) reported.
"Continued EU enlargement is a priority issue for the Swedish Presidency. With the agreement in place, some issues still remain for the two countries to resolve, but Slovenia’s veto has been lifted and Croatia can continue with the reforms that are required for it to become a full member of the EU," a statement posted on website of the Swedish EU Presidency said.
Croatia's EU membership talks, launched in 2005, hit a major snag last December when its neighbour Slovenia vetoed any further progress in the negotiations because of a dispute over their Adriatic sea border in the Bay of Piran. The dispute is dating back to the collapse in 1991 of the former Yugoslav Federation, of which both Croatia and Slovenia were parts.
The European Commission said in October that Croatia has made good progress in its accession talks with the bloc and the negotiation process could be concluded in 2010 if the country meets all outstanding benchmarks in time.
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