28 OCT 2010
By Jasmina Kuzmanovic | Bloomberg
Croatia said it is sticking to its 2012 European Union entry timetable after European Commissioner Jose Barroso warned earlier this week that “many challenges” remain in order for the Balkan state to finish talks next year.
“Croatia is in the final stage of negotiations and it is ready to fulfill all the necessary conditions,” Mario Dragun, chief spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, said in an interview today. “It is realistic to expect that the negotiations will be finalized during the EU Hungarian presidency in the first half of 2011.”
Croatia is seeking to become the next country to join the EU and has wrapped up negotiations or is close to completion in 31 out of 33 areas before it can sign the accession treaty with the bloc. Existing member states must then approve membership, a process than can take as long as a year.
Barroso said on Oct. 25 that while the country has a “chance” at entering in 2012, delays in overhauling the judiciary and competition policies could delay the end of talks to the end of next year, meaning Croatia probably wouldn’t become the 28th member of the EU until 2013.
“The remaining big challenge is political, but Croatia will make it,” said Vesna Pusic, head of the parliamentary committee overseeing entry talks. “We absolutely can finish the negotiations on time. This is our political duty.”
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