Slovenia ratified Croatia's European Union accession treaty today (2 April) after the two ex-Yugoslav republics agreed last month to set aside a 20-year old dispute over a shuttered bank that had blocked Zagreb's entry path.
Slovenia's Parliament ratified Croatia's EU accession in an unanimous vote, paving the way for Croatia to join the bloc on 1 July as the Union’s 28th member state.
Croatia concluded EU accession talks in 2011 but needs all 27 EU members to ratify its entry before it can join the bloc on July 1. With neighboring Slovenia's parliament voting unanimously in favour, 23 member states have done that so far.
Germany, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands are expected to follow suit, after the European Commission signaled last month that Croatia had met all requirements and was ready to join.
Slovenia had until now kept Croatia on hold because of a dispute over Slovenian lender Ljubljanska Banka (LB). LB closed down without reimbursing its Croatian depositors when Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in 1991.
Croatia agreed in March to suspend a lawsuit before its courts, in which it is seeking reimbursement from Ljubljana. Further talks on LB will be held under the auspices of the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlement.
Croatia will be the second former Yugoslav republic to join the EU. Montenegro started accession talks last year while Serbia and Macedonia have only acceded to candidate status. Bosnia and Kosovo have yet to do so.
Asked to comment the ratification by Slovenia, European Commission spokesperson Alexandre Polack said the EU executive “welcomes the fact that the Slovenian parliament unanimously approved the law ratifying Croatia’s accession treaty”.
“We are looking forward to the completion of the ratification process in all member states, in order to welcome Croatia as new member state from 1 July 2013”, Polack added.