Croatia’s bid for OECD membership blocked by Slovenia and Hungary

ANTONIO BAT

A view of Slovenian small town Piran from the middle of the Piran Bay, a disputed border area between Slovenia and Croatia, 13 June 2010.

Croatia’s bid for OECD membership blocked by Slovenia and Hungary


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Hungary joined Slovenia in objecting to Croatia’s bid for membership of the OECD.

On Wednesday, the Slovene foreign minister Karl Erjaves justified his veto by citing Croatia’s “disrespect for international law,” as Zagreb refuses to abide by the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague over the demarcation of the Piran Bay border.

In 2009 Slovenia dropped its veto on Croatian accession to the EU on condition that Zagreb accepts international arbitration for the border demarcation. Zagreb walked out of the arbitration process in 2015, alleging the collusion of a Slovene judge with Ljubljana. The failure is of critical significance to Slovenia’s trade, as the smallest of the Alpine nations has only 46km of coastline and no direct access to international waters in the Adriatic Sea.

According to Croatia’s press, Hungary became the second country to block Croatia’s OECD membership on Friday.

Croatia has refused the ruling of a Geneva-based UN arbitration court that ruled that a corruption scandal against Hungary’s MOL was not proven.

MOL is a 50% owner of Croatia’s power utility INA, while the state maintains a 45% share. Zagreb has for years demanded control over management and investment policy, making the case that MOL bribed the former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in 2009 to gain a majority stake in the utility. Zagreb refuses to abide by the Court’s ruling.

Hungary is also moving to veto Romania’s OECD membership, citing the closure of a Hungarian Catholic school in Transylvania. Hungary’s veto takes place a year before national elections. Since 2015, the Fidesz party of Victor Orban has granted 700,000 ethnic Hungarians citizenship and, therefore, the right to vote.

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