Slovenia votes on Croatia border deal

First results are expected about one hour after the polls close at 1700 GMT.

Slovenia votes on Croatia border deal

Slovenia once again takes centre stage in neighbour Croatia's European Union membership bid on Sunday, with a national referendum on whether to accept a border arbitration deal reached with Zagreb last year.

Latest opinion polls in the small EU member state suggest a tight race between those loyal to Prime Minister Borut Pahor's centre-left government and the right-wing camp of opposition leader and former premier Janez Jansa, who opposes the deal.

A 'No' would force Pahor to reject the deal and could make it impossible for Croatia to join the wealthy bloc in 2012, even if it concludes entry talks in the next 12 months.

In March, Pahor yielded to opposition demands for a binding referendum on the issue. The opposition says the deal is bad for Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004 and, like any other member, can veto Croatia's progress.

"Solving the border dispute with Croatia is the basis for a lasting peace, security and friendship of both nations," Pahor told reporters earlier this week.

"This is the first agreement after 18 years. If it is rejected, it is questionable how long I or my successor will need to reach another agreement which, I believe, could not be better," he added.

Slovenia blocked Croatia's EU accession talks for most of 2009 over the border issue until they cut a deal last September.

Under the agreement, an international team would settle the dispute over land and sea, dating from the 1991 break-up of Yugoslavia. The ruling would be binding for both countries. Croatia has already ratified the accord.

Pahor's government has made ending the border dispute with the fellow ex-Yugoslav republic its main foreign policy goal.

First results are expected about one hour after the polls close at 1700 GMT.


Agencies

Last Mod: 06 Haziran 2010, 17:32
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