German chancellor Merkel to visit Croatia

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit EU's next member Croatia on August 22, Foreign Minister Goran Jandrokovic announced Thursday.

"Angela Merkel's visit confirms the exceptional relations between Germany and Croatia," the minister told Croatian state television HTV.

Merkel "arrives at a time when Croatia successfully ended its negotiations with the EU where we are waiting to sign the adhesion treaty and the start the process of ratification" among member states, Jandrokovic said.

Croatia closed accession talks with the European Union which started in 2005 on June 30th this year. Zagreb should become the 28th member of the block in July 2013.

Germany has always had close relations with Croatia and was one of the first states to recognise its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Merkel's visit, the first by a German head of state since then-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder came in 2003, will come some three months before general elections in Croatia planned for December 4. It is seen as a much-needed boost for the Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and her ruling conservative HDZ party which is trailing in the polls.

© 2011 AFP

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