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Dec 06, 2007 17:11 EEST
December 6 (SeeNews) - European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has warned EU candidate Croatia not to enforce its protected Adriatic fishing and ecological zone from January 1, because this could be an obstacle in accession talks, Croatian media reported on Thursday.
"I encouraged Croatia to restrain from implementation of the protected fishing and ecological zone and to respect the agreement signed in 2004," Rehn was quoted as saying by the Croatian daily newspaper Vecernji List.
In 2003, Croatia proclaimed the zone in the eastern half of the Adriatic but a year later exempted Slovenia and Italy from the ban to help its EU membership bid. Last year the Croatian Parliament approved a government proposal, which envisages that by January 1, 2008 at the latest the zone restrictions will also apply to fishing vessels of EU member states.
Rehn added that the decision of Croatia to apply the restrictions of the protected fishing zone to Slovenia and Italy as of January 1 could have a negative impact on the country’s talks with the EU. Italy and Slovenia are the only EU countries to have common sea borders with Croatia.
By the end of the year Croatia will have a new government which will find a solution acceptable to Italy, Slovenia, the EU and Croatia, Croatia’s President Stijepan Mesic was quoted by Vecernji List as saying.
Croatia held general elections on November 25. The outgoing conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has won a marginal lead over the main opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) according to preliminary results. However, each of the two main contenders has said it would seek to enter a coalition with smaller parties to form a cabinet. HDZ this week started talks with the centre-oriented HSS-HSLS coalition on forming a government. Croatia started EU membership talks in October 2005 and the former Yugoslav republic of 4.4 million people hopes to join the EU by the end of the decade.
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