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Slovenia ratifies Croatia's EU accession treaty


Slovenia's parliament ratified Croatia's European Union accession treaty on Tuesday, easing the way for it to join the bloc after years of hold-ups over long-standing bilateral disputes.

A total 82 lawmakers voted to ratify the treaty with none opposing it in the 90-seat parliament, setting Croatia on the path to becoming the EU's 28th member on July 1.

Slovenia was long one of the main obstacles to Croatian accession, blocking the process over border and banking issues.

On Tuesday, Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek told parliament: "Croatia's successful accession to the European family shows all states that want to become members that they have to believe in the demanding path of reforms and adoption of EU standards."

Bratusek's Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanovic as well as the foreign ministers of Slovenia and Croatia attended the parliamentary session.

The ratification comes after the two countries last month reached an agreement on the last pending bilateral dispute, concerning bank savings held by Croatians in Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka before the former Yugoslavia collapsed in 1991.

In 2009, the two states also agreed to create an arbitration tribunal that will rule on their common border once Croatia joins the EU.

Zagreb still needs four EU member states -- Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Holland -- to ratify its accession agreement before it can officially join the bloc.

It would be the second of the six former Yugoslav republics to join the 27-nation European Union, nine years after Slovenia.