Hungary and Croatia hold meeting in Budapest

Croatia's efforts to join the European Union, cooperation on energy matters, and a joint bid to host soccer's 2012 European Championships are expected to dominate Thursday's joint Cabinet session between Hungary and Croatia. Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and his Croatian counterpart, Ivo Sanader, will lead the session, to be held at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts.

The EU opened accession talks with Croatia, a prelude to eventual membership, on Oct. 4, after delaying them for months because of Croatia's failure to capture a top war crimes suspect, Ante Gotovina. Gotovina was eventually arrested in Spain on Dec. 7. Hungary, which joined the EU in 2004, has been a solid supporter of the accession of Croatia, home to an ethnic Hungarian minority of around 17,000 people.

Croatia hopes to join the EU in 2009. Linking the two countries' natural gas pipelines and cooperation on the management of oil reserves are among the energy issues the governments are expected to discuss Thursday. The two Cabinets are also expected to reiterate their support for a joint bid to host soccer's 2012 European championships. The winning bid is planned to be chosen Dec. 8 and the other two finalists are Italy and a joint bid by Poland and Ukraine.

The meeting will not be held in parliament "so the shadows of history are not projected onto cooperation in the modern era between Hungary and Croatia," Gyurcsany told Hungarian state news wire MTI.

Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I and under some form of Hungarian or Austrian authority as far back as the 12th century. Sanader and his Cabinet are also scheduled to meet with Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom later Thursday, reports the AP. N.U.

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