Slovenia turns down Italy's property deal

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The Independent Online
Rome - Relations between Italy and Slovenia, already strained by a property dispute, worsened yesterday when Ljubljana rejected a compromise deal and Rome retaliated by hardening its threat to block the country's request for closer ties with the European Union, writes Fiona Leney.

The two sides had appeared to have reached an accord on ways to resolve the dispute over property expropriated by Yugoslavia from Italians who fled the region after Italy's defeat in the Second World War. But Slovene sources say Ljubljana is still unhappy about Rome's insistence that Italian buyers be given preferential access to any property that might be put up for sale.

Gianfranco Fini, head of the neo-Fascist-led National Alliance, and a partner in government, demanded that Italy block Slovenia's request for associate EU membership at a meeting of ministers later this month.