EU presses Croatia to hand over war criminal

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has explained that the EU
is ready to start membership talks with Croatia on 17
March provided that, in the meantime, it fully co-operates
with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. 

“If the Commission were to give its recommendation on the basis
of today’s information, I could not recommend opening negotiations
with Croatia,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said on 31
January, urging the Croatian government to step up its co-operation
with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
in order to be able to start membership talks with the

In particular, the EU has been putting pressure on Croatia to
give up Ante Gotovina, a Croatian general, who has been indicted by
the war crimes tribunal for killing some 100 ethnic Serbs and for
expelling tens of thousands in the mid-1990s. “I’m convinced that
if the Croatian government had the political will to locate and
transfer General Gotovina, it could do so,” Commissioner Rehn has
been quoted as saying.

The European Council in December set March 17 as the start date
of accession negotiations with Croatia. But membership
talks can only begin following a positive recommendation by
the Commission and a unanimous decision by EU member

The Commission’s positive opinion is conditional
upon Croatia’s ability to fulfil a set of criteria
[‘Copenhagen criteria’] which measures a country’s political
and economic situation as well as its ability to take on the
obligations of membership. In addition, Croatia has been told
to co-operate fully with the criminal court, contribute
to closer regional cooperation and resolve its border disputes
in line with international law.

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