Sunday

3rd Dec 2023

Croatian president on Brussels visit

Stjepan Mesic, the Croatian President visited Brussels Monday and met Commission President, Romano Prodi, to discuss his country's future application for EU membership. Mr Prodi linked the status of membership with the need to reform the Croatian state and improve human rights and refugees problems. The President of the European Commission added that when Stjepan Mesic submits the application, "this we’ll make us both very happy." Croatia is expected to formally apply for membership on 18 February.

The co-operation with the Hague Tribunal and the implementation of the reforms which are under way there will be a common task for the future, according to President Prodi. He was referring to the fact that Croatia has not yet handed over Janko Bebetko who was indicted by the tribunal for war crimes and this fact has been a significant problem for their accession bid until now.

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For his part, President Mesic stated that the application to the EU has already had a very positive effect on the Croatian public opinion and "we realise that this is our destiny, to be part of Europe".

Croatia sent a progress report to the European Commission, which is likely to give its assessment of it in March

Strategic and peaceful Croatian role

Croatia will also have a fundamental role in the stabilisation of the Western Balkans region. Mr Prodi added that this could also be an example for its neighbouring countries of how speeding up progress is possible.

Concerning the Iraqi crisis, Mr Mesic only stated that the people of Croatia seek a peaceful solution and that any action should be conducted by the United Nations. Yet, Croatia was one of the countries which signed the Vilnius 10 letter last week, giving their support to an American military operation against Bagdad.

Strategy towards the Balkans

After 2004, the European Union will open the gate for the Balkan countries. Albania also has taken its first step towards European integration when it opened negotiations for a stabilisation and cooperation agreement with Brussels earlier this month.

The EU has planned a strategic Summit with the Balkans that will take place at the and of the Greek Presidency in June in Thessaloniki.

Croatian membership: "Why not" says Prodi

The Croatian Prime Minister, Ivica Racan, confirmed on Monday that Croatia would submit its formal application to become a member of the European Union on 18 February in Athens.

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The Vilnius 10 group, composed of Slovakia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia on Wednesday signed a letter in support of American military intervention in Iraq. The ten countries said that US Secretary of State Colin Powell had proved to the UN Security Council that Iraq had clearly violated UN resolutions. The signatories are also willing to participate in the international coalition for the disarmament of Iraq.

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