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“Slovenians aim to block Croats”, headlines SME. With Zagreb set to join the EU in July 2013, Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec has threatened that Ljubljana will not ratify its neighbour’s accession treaty.

Ljubljana has put the brakes on the integration of its southern neighbour over the issue of 172 million euros owed to Croatian citizens by Ljubljanska Banka, Slovenia’s largest bank in which the state holds a majority stake.

The Bratislava daily explains —

Ljubljanska Banka, which was one of the largest banks in the former Yugoslavia, ran into trouble in the 1990s when depositors rushed to withdraw their savings before they were made worthless by soaring inflation. However, Ljubljanska Banka refused to hand over the cash and closed its branches in Croatia and Bosnia. Shortly afterwards the bank filed for bankruptcy and the state took charge of its assets and liabilities.

In Croatia, 130,000 people lost their savings, and Ljubljanska Banka still owes them 172 million euros. If Croatia joins the EU, the Slovenian institution will be forced to pay its creditors at a time when Slovenian banks are in what SME remarks is a “very serious state”. In June the Slovenian government was forced to hand over 382 millions euros, twice the amount owed to Croatian creditors, to the bank in question. And in the run-up to the ratification of Croatia’s accession, the Slovenians want Croatia to stop encouraging lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka.

This is the second time that Croatia’s accession to the EU has been blocked by Slovenia, which, in October 2009, also threatened to veto any agreement signed with Zagreb over the issue of border disputes between the two countries.