The foreign ministers of the European Union look set to disappoint Croatia when they meet this Wednesday; diplomats say they will postpone the start of entry negotiations with Zagreb, probably without setting a new date. They have, however, reaffirmed their willingness to open talks once Croatia complies with the U.N. war crimes tribunal.
Croatian reformist Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has asked the EU leaders to let the negotiations begin as planned this Thursday and then monitor the credibility of the country’s efforts to arrest a top war crimes fugitive. Former general Ante Gotovina has been on the run since the U.N. court indicted him in 2001, accusing him of war crimes against rebel Serbs. But many Croats see Gotovina as a hero of the country’s 1991-95 war of independence from the Serb-dominated former Yugoslavia. Countries taking the hardest line, including Britain, Germany and France, say the EU must avoid setting a lenient precedent on human rights and the rule of law before it opens talks with Turkey in October.