The European Union is set to postpone entry talks with Croatia today in response to its failure to hand over a general indicted for war crimes. The move is expected to come despite a last-ditch lobbying trip to Brussels by the Croatian prime minister. Talks were due to have got underway tomorrow. Ivo Sanader insists Zagreb is co-operating with the UN tribunal. However fugitive Ante Gotovina remains at large.
“I have no information on whether the Croat communities in Bosnia are protecting him,” said analyst Michael Emerson of the Centre for European Policy Studies.
“The second possibility is France since he has a French passport. I have no information on that but after all he is a former French Foreign Legion soldier and he also has extremely good connections with various parts of Latin America.” The EU has taken a stand after the chief UN prosecutor said Croatia had not tried hard enough to catch Gotovina.
On the streets of Zagreb, anger aimed at the EU appears to be on the rise. “The Gotovina case should not be a condition of Croatia’s entry,” said one woman. “This is going to have a negative effect on feelings towards membership,” said a man with similar feelings. “I think if we had a referendum, 80 percent of people would vote “no.”
Gotovina has been indicted in connection with war crimes against ethnic Serbs. Should his case, as expected, prompt a refusal by the European Union to start negotiations, it would be the first time it has put off the scheduled opening of talks with a candidate country because of a human rights issue. Nonetheless many Croatians continue to see Gotovina as a hero of their war of independence.