SEPTEMBER 17 2012 22:41h

Pusic: In New Year ratification of the treaty in over 20 member states

Laurent Fabius and Vesna Pusic

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Croatia
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PARIS, Sept 17 (Hina) - France will definitely ratify the Croatia-EU accession treaty by the end of this year and Croatia might see in the New Year with the ratification of the treaty in over 20 member-states, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Vesna Pusic said after talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris on Monday.

"Judging from all I have heard today, France will presumably ratify the treaty in November and most certainly by the end of this year, and no one sees any difficulty in that aspect," Pusic told a news conference.

So far, 14 of the 27 European Union member states have ratified the document, and another seven or eight are expected to follow their example by the end of this year.

"I will not prejudge anything, but I believe that we can usher in the New Year with over 20 ratifications," the Croatian minister said.

"The only potential problem may be the issue of relations with Slovenia. However, the Croatian and Slovenian financial experts are due to meet tomorrow in an attempt to solve the financial problem as a specific one which has nothing to do with the Croatian-Slovenian European partnership and common tasks in the region. I hope that in this way, we will not only separate that problem but also solve it. I would not like to see Slovenia as the last country to ratify Croatia's accession treaty but would like to see it among those that will do it by the end of this year," Pusic said.

She also expects that the forthcoming autumn report on the EU monitoring of Croatia will provide impetus to the ratification process in EU member-states.

Pusic and Fabius also discussed the situation in the Middle East, with focus on Syria.

"We have established communication with southern Mediterranean countries which we consider important, and I think that we can develop a partnership with that region. Also, Croatia has economic interests in Syria, but Syria is currently suffering much in the civil war, and Croatia treats human rights and women's rights as some of the fundamental objectives of its foreign policy. This is a topic on which we should cooperate," Pusic said.

The two ministers also discussed the situation in the western Balkans and the role of Croatia as "the first country from the region and the first post-conflict society, after the founding countries, to enter the EU". France perceives Croatia as a successful example and its partner in the region, and we perceive ourselves as a partner of the countries in the region with whom we can assume the responsibility for the stabilisation of the region, she added.

Fabius could not attend the news conference because he had to fly to Cairo.

Earlier on Monday, Pusic also met the chairwoman of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee, Elisabeth Guigou, and other officials in the French National Assembly.

Pusic is due to meet some other French senior officials later in the day, including the vice chairmen of the Senate's foreign affairs and defence committees, Daniel Reiner and Robert Del Picchia.

Before those meetings, the Croatian minister will formally open an exhibition of sculptures by Ivan Mestrovic at the Rodin Museum. The exhibition of the word-famous Croatian sculptor is part of the programme of the ongoing Festival of Croatia in France. The festival, called "Croatie, la voici", started on 12 September and will run until December.

Pusic thanked organisers and all those participating in the promotion of Croatia's culture, education, science, tourism, economy and sport during the festival.