The Minister for Foreign Affairs. Franco Frattini, is meeting the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Sanader, today, Thursday 5 March 2009. The Croatian Prime Minister’s visit to Italy is part of the intensive diplomatic activity to resume the EU accession negotiations which the border dispute with Ljubljana had, essentially, blocked. There is a risk that this bilateral issue will delay Zagreb’s entry to NATO and full participation in the Strasbourg/Kehl summit in April this year.
Croatia is determined to complete the technical negotiations for EU accession by the end of 2009, with a view to obtaining membership in late 2010-early 2011. But a significant factor in achieving this goal is the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute. Slovenia blocked 9 chapters of the negotiation package, forcing the EU Presidency, at that time held by France, to abandon the goal of opening most of the chapters in the package and completing a significant number of them.
As regards the NATO accession process, on 9 July 2008 Croatia signed the accession protocol. At the end of that month its delegates began to attend the proceedings of the organisation’s North Atlantic Council, Groups and Committees, as well as ministerial meetings, in an observer capacity. Italy has completed the accession protocol ratification process and on 20 February 2009 informed the US authorities, depositaries of the North Atlantic Treaty, of the instrument of ratification.