France hopes Croatia EU talks to end in June: minister

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France would like to see Croatia complete its lengthy EU accession talks by the end of June, French European Affairs Minister Laurent Wauquiez told a local daily on Monday.

"Considerable efforts undertaken by your country to meet all (EU) accession criteria should allow for the rapid conclusion of talks, if possible in June," Wauquiez said in an interview with the Jutarnji List daily.

He said remaining efforts would focus notably on judicial reform.

Croatia has already closed 30 of the 35 EU policy chapters that every nation must negotiate with the EU before becoming a member.

In order to reassure countries reluctant to give the green light for the completion of Croatia's EU accession talks, including Britain and The Netherlands, France proposed a mechanism to monitor how Zagreb continues to meet Brussels-sought criteria.

"France's goal has to be understood. It is not to slow down Croatia's accession but on the contrary to facilitate it on the basis of a serious and solid process," Wauquiez said.

"The Croatian government understands well that this proposal will also help to convince the most hesitant countries."

The monitoring would cease once the country becomes a full-fledged member, expected for mid-2013.

To wrap up accession talks with Zagreb, which started in 2005, Brussels has to assess whether Croatia made sufficient progress notably to reform its judiciary, including in the fight against corruption and the processing of war crimes from the 1990s conflict that broke up the former Yugoslavia. Progress is also expected in restructuring its ailing state-run shipyards.

© 2011 AFP

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