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31.07.2009 16:15
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Slovenian, Croatian PMs Optimistic After First Meeting (adds)

adds further statements by PMs, responses by political parties
Foto Foto servis

Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor and new Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor meet in Croatia's Trakoscan.
File photo.

Varaždin, 31 July (STA) - Slovenian and Croatian prime ministers, Borut Pahor and Jadranka Kosor, agreed Friday on a framework that could lead to resolution of the issues that have soured otherwise good cooperation between the countries. "There is a chance to solve the issues this year," Pahor said after coming out of a 90-minute meeting with Kosor near Croatia's Varazdin.

There are some issues that have remained unsolved, but a path has been paved "which gives both of us [prime ministers] enough hope for reaching an agreement this year on a solution that would be in the interest of both countries and the EU", Pahor stressed after his first meeting with Kosor, who was appointed prime minister earlier this month.

The meeting came nearly two months after the collapse of negotiations sponsored by the European Commission on a way out of the border dispute and the stalemate in Croatia's EU talks.

Pahor believes that with good will and mutual respect and trust, the matter could be solved by the end of they year. He said he was optimistic about the future, hoping that cooperation between countries bears fruit.

He added that a detailed framework for the resolution of the issues would be worked out by the autumn, "but not always in front of cameras".

The Croatian prime minister meanwhile labelled the meeting as open, concrete and constructive, and stressed she believed the meeting "turned a new page in solving the current issues and questions".

Kosor added that the completion of EU accession talks was one of Croatia's strategic goals. The governments of both countries and the prime ministers will strive for neighbourly relations and the resolution of pressing issues, she said, adding that this was also being done because of "the prospects this obviously opens for the countries of Southeast Europe".

The prime ministers moreover stressed that both sides would step up efforts over the coming months to solve the pressing issues.

Pahor and Kosor first meet face to face in a closed-door meeting that lasted 30 minutes. They were later joined by national delegations, which also included the foreign ministers, Slovenia's Samuel Zbogar and Croatia's Gordan Jandrokovic.

No further details of the talks have been revealed. Over 50 journalists gathered in Trakoscan near Croatia's Varazdin where the meeting took place, but the prime ministers refused to take questions from the press.

Several Slovenian political parties commented on the outcomes of the meeting between Pahor and Kosor.

Social Democrats (SD) deputy Darja Lavtizar Bebler told STA today that the meeting, which came less than a month after Kosor assumed office, was a sign that Kosor "is actively looking for a solution to the problems between the countries".

Lavtizar Bebler moreover labelled the outcomes of the meeting as encouraging, supporting the announcement that the talks would be taken out of the media spotlight.

Slovenian MEP Ivo Vagjl (ALDE/Zares) was satisfied over the fact that the ministers agreed to address the border dispute and Croatia's EU accession within a single framework. "It is clear that nowadays it is impossible and unnecessary to separate these two things," he said.

The People's Party (SLS) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) also welcomed today's meeting, and called for the talks to continue. Head of the SLS deputy group Jakob Presecnik stressed that EU enlargement in the Western Balkans was also in the interest of Slovenia.

31.07.2009 16:15

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