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Books on Croatia
Update No: 129 - (28/02/08)
EU bid in jeopardy
The present occupant of the rotating EU presidency is Slovenia. Croatia and
Slovenia have border disputes and a certain acrimony left over from the days of
being under the heel of Belgrade in the FRY. Anyway it is a geopolitical maxim,
enunciated as long ago as the third century BC by Kautilya, the great minister
of the Mauragupta empire in what is now the Punjab, that neighbouring states do
not get on, only those at least at one remove.
Of course the EU is inter alia a highly original attempt to transcend that
problem. It has partially worked. The French and Germans have buried the hatchet
and will never go to war again. But in Belgium the Walloons and Flemish are at
loggerheads. They will not go to war with each other; but Kautilya is still
Croatian President Stipe Mesic warned Slovenia on January 31 not to block his
country's European Union membership bid as such a move could seriously harm ties
between the two neighbours. "If Slovenia prevents our entry into the EU by
persistently insisting on its attitudes, it will be a disaster for our future
relations," Mesic said. Such a scenario would mean that any
"friendship between Slovenia and Croatia is over for good," he added.
Confidential meeting in Slovenia
The Croatian leader had an informal meeting on February 1 with his Slovenian
counterpart Danilo Turk, for the first time since Turk was elected in November.
Asked by journalists what he expected from the talks, held in Slovenia, Mesic
emphasised they were informal to give them a greater chance of success.
Croatia accuses its northern neighbour of using its current six-month term in
the EU presidency to press Zagreb over unsolved bilateral issues. Slovenia has
rejected the charges. Since the two former Yugoslav republics declared
independence in 1991, they have been unable to resolve a number of bilateral
issues, notably their common sea-border.
The issue is linked to a disputed Croatian fishing and ecological zone. The zone
to protect fishing stocks, which was enforced by Zagreb on January 1, is
strongly opposed by the European Union, and notably Croatia's Adriatic Sea
neighbours Italy and Slovenia. Brussels repeatedly warned Zagreb that imposing
the zone would have negative consequences on its ambitions to join the bloc,
which it hopes to do by the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, the head of the European Commission's mission there met with Mesic to
discuss the current situation regarding Croatia's membership talks, which opened
in 2005. "During the past few months 'disturbing clouds have been
gathering' over the talks," between Zagreb and Brussels, Vincent Degert was
quoted as saying in a statement from Mesic's office. "This could slow down
the talks and in the most unfavourable situation lead to their freezing,"
he said. Degert pointed to the fishing zone and more recently to relations
between Ljubljana and Zagreb as the main elements which contributed to a
slowdown of the talks.
Among other issues hampering the talk’s figures slowness in reforming the
judiciary and public administration, he added. Mesic said he was aware of the
"seriousness of the moment" adding that the unresolved border dispute
with Slovenia was "at the heart of all problems." Zagreb is ready to
bring the issue before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, he
Adhesion to NATO at the Bucharest summit?
Romania is hosting the next NATO summit in April. It is being an appropriate
moment to enlarge the organisation into the Balkans. Croatia is the first to be
considered. Albania and Macedonia are prime candidates too.
The big one would be Serbia, where voters re-elected the pro-Western incumbent,
President Tadic, on February 3. April but which may be deemed a little early for
such a bold step. It is further complicated by the fall-out from Kosovo’s UDI
backed by the leading Nato nations of USA, UK, France and Germany. In other
words, there is hardly likely to be a Serbian desire to join Nato in today’s
circumstances, and that would be accentuated by the offence it might give to
Russia who are regarded as Serbia’s one true friend at this time. Russia
openly criticises the expansion of Nato, demanding to know what this is for –
obviously suspecting it is being encircled.
The Croats, however, pro-Western and a favourite with the US and Germany are and
regard themselves as first in line for Nato membership.