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Croatia's EU-Accession Talks Not Linked With Bulgaria, Romania

1 June 2004 -- European Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said in the Slovene capital Ljubljana that EU leaders are expected to back the start of membership talks with Croatia later this month.

But he said on 1 June that Croatia's accession process will be separate from that of Bulgaria and Romania.

Verheugen said Romania and Bulgaria will join the EU in 2007. But he said the other countries that are in the process of accession will have individual tracks for accession.

Croatia's government has expressed its hope of joining the EU along with Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

Verheugen is on a two-day visit to Slovenia.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on June 17-18.