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Croatia EU talks 'to be delayed'


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Croatia EU talks 'to be delayed'

Croatia's EU entry talks could be delayed after the UN's chief war crimes prosecutor said the country was not doing enough to co-operate.

EU diplomats say the discussions, which are scheduled to begin on Thursday, are likely to be postponed.

The UN's Carla del Ponte says Croatia must do more to pursue indicted war crimes suspect Gen Ante Gotovina.

Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader insists his country has co-operated - he says Gen Antovina is not in Croatia.

"Croatia has fulfilled the condition of full cooperation with the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia). Negotiations should start on 17 March," Mr Sanader said.

"According to all our information, [Gen Gotovina] is not in Croatia. This is the only and full truth."

Moment of truth

While some of Croatia's EU neighbours want accession talks to start, many others say that is impossible while Gen Gotovina is still at large.

The BBC's correspondent in Brussels, Oana Lungescu, says diplomats feel it would send a very bad signal to Serbia and Bosnia, which have begun cooperating more closely with the international tribunal.

They say this is a moment of truth when the EU must show it is serious about human rights, she says.

All 25 EU foreign ministers must agree before the talks can go ahead.

Krajina campaign

Ms Del Ponte's spokeswoman said: "There is no change in our assessment of cooperation. The authorities are not demonstrating the will to arrest Gotovina."

The tribunal's chief prosecutor has accused Zagreb of shielding Gen Gotovina.

He is accused of crimes against humanity during a 1995 campaign to recapture land seized by Serb rebels after the break-up of Yugoslavia.

He faces charges of killing 150 Serbs and expelling 150,000 others from the Krajina region.

He is still revered as a hero by some Croats.

Story from BBC NEWS:


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