Croatia’s President Stjepan Mesic has told EuroNews he is confident his country can start European Union membership talks on time this month, even if a key war crimes suspect remains free.
He says: “Ante Gotovina is a fugitive under Croatian law, and we’d like to see him arrested. According to all the information we have, he is not in Croatia. That is why the start of the negotiations will not be affected.”
The United Nations tribunal in The Hague indicted the former French Foreign Legion paratrooper in 2001.
EU leaders have told Croatia its membership talks will not start on March 17 as scheduled unless it arrests him and hands him over.
Zagreb has stepped up its efforts to persuade the EU it is genuinely doing its best to find the general and should not be punished if he is out of its reach.
Chief tribunal prosecutor Carla del Ponte has accused the government in Zagreb of stalling, double-dealing and failing to dismantle Gotovina’s support network.