You could be forgiven for thinking that Turkey is the only candidate country under discussion at the landmark EU summit in Brussels. After all, Ankara’s European ambitions are dominating media attention. Other nations, however, are also pursuing their bids to join the club. And, in a draft statement, key dates have been given for them to put in their diaries. For Croatia, it is April next year. That is when the European Union is willing to open membership talks – provided the former Yugoslav republic fully co-operates with the UN war crimes tribunal.
Zagreb had been hoping for an unconditional date but EU officials want to keep up the pressure in the hunt for a fugitive former general, indicted by the court. Other would-be members Bulgaria and Romania missed out on the first wave of the European Union’s eastern enlargement in May, after dragging their feet on reforms. But the EU now says it will sign an Accession Treaty with both countries in April 2005, with a view to them taking their place in the bloc two years later.