Beligum PM calls Croatia to speed up EU accession talks

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Belgium's Prime Minister Yves Leterme, whose country will take rotating EU presidency later this year, on Tuesday called on Croatia to speed up processes necessary for Zagreb to join the 27-member bloc.

"It is very clear that there will indeed be progress in these negotiations this year under Belgian EU Presidency... provided that all necessary requirements of membership have been met with the perspective to conclude... as soon as possible," Leterme said.

Among these requirements for Croatia are its cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal, settlement of border disputes with neighbouring Slovenia and Serbia, as well as privatisation of the country's shipyards.

"Once these three items are solved... there will be no obstacle for a membership of Croatia to the European Union," he said after meeting Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.

Leterme insisted that "there is no question of a kind of enlargement fatigue, as far as Belgium is concerned."

Kosor said Zagreb hoped to end accession talks during Belgium's EU presidency, in order to join the 27-member bloc in 2012.

Representatives of the Western Balkans countries and the European Union were to meet in Sarajevo on Wednesday to discuss the region's future in the EU.

© 2010 AFP

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