Ces négociations débuteront
au printemps prochain à condition que l'ancienne République
yougoslave coopère avec le Tribunal pénal international
de La Haye
Au deuxième jour du sommet
de Bruxelles, historique pour la Turquie et l'Union européenne,
les Vingt-Cinq ont annoncé l'ouverture de négociations
d'adhésion avec la Croatie en avril 2005, à condition
que l'ancienne République yougoslave coopère avec
le Tribunal pénal international de La Haye. Les dirigeants
de l'Union européenne entendent obtenir l'arrestation du
général Ante Gotovina et son transfert vers le Tribunal
pénal international pour l'ex-Yougoslavie. La Croatie espérait
obtenir sans condition l'ouverture de ces discussions. Elle souhaiterait
adhérer à l'UE dès 2007, mais les diplomates
jugent plus réalistes une entrée en 2009.
Le projet de communiqué du conseil européen
de Bruxelles constate également, et réaffirme, que
les négociations d'adhésion avec la Roumanie et
la Bulgarie sont achevées et que les traités d'adhésion
devront être signés en avril 2005 pour une entrée
effective au 1e r janvier 2007. D'ici là, l'Union européenne
a réitéré son intention de surveiller de
près les progrès des deux pays, dans le domaine
Concernant la suite des discussions avec la Turquie,
les dirigeants de l'Union européenne tentaient d'arracher
vendredi un accord avec le Premier ministre turc Recep Tayyip
Erdogan sur l'ouverture de négociations d'adhésion
le 3 octobre 2005, qui bute sur le problème de la reconnaissance
International Herald Tribune,
talks may stir change in Balkans
seen as regional incentive
By Judy Dempsey
European Union agreement to start membership
talks with Croatia could have far-reaching implications for the
rest of the Balkans, according to officials and diplomats in Zagreb.
If the negotiations are successful, it would
demonstrate to other governments in the region how a country deeply
involved in the Balkan wars of the 1990s can deal with the past,
democratize and restore relations with its former foes.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels are expected to
decide on Friday to open accession negotiations with Croatia,
probably setting April 2005 as a starting point. Croatia, with
a population of 4.5 million, hopes to enter the EU in 2007, at
the same time as Bulgaria and Romania, although diplomats say
2009 is more realistic.
Although the Balkan region is still plagued by
corruption and high unemployment, as well as a reluctance to embrace
economic and judicial reform, officials from both Croatia and
Serbia - once hardened enemies - say the prospect of EU membership
could be the single most important incentive for introducing change.
As a condition of the start of negotiations,
EU leaders want the Zagreb government to do everything possible
to deliver Ante Gotovina, a former general, to the UN war crimes
tribunal in The Hague.
The court, formally the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, indicted Gotovina
in 2001 for war crimes against Croatian Serbs, including the killing
of at least 150 Serbs from Krajina and responsibility for the
of 200,000 members of the Serb minority.
Since then, Croatian officials have told The
Hague they cannot find Gotovina.
On Thursday, however, shortly before the EU summit
meeting was due to begin, Croatia's prime minister, Ivo Sanader,
vowed to cooperate fully with the tribunal, Reuters reported.
"I am going to say very clearly that Croatia
is fully cooperating" with the court, Sanader told reporters
in Brussels. "We are fully committed to this cooperation."
This marks a big change in Croatia, particularly
since Sanader is from the Croatian Democratic Union party, locally
called the HDZ.
Under former President Franjo Tudjman, who died
in December 1999, the Croatian Democratic Union party was a staunchly
nationalist party that tried repeatedly during the Balkan wars
of the 1990s to expand Croatia into western Herzegovina in Bosnia,
while Slobodan Milosevic, then Serbia's president, tried to expand
Serbia into eastern and northern Bosnia.
Sanader, elected over a year ago, has managed
to defy the critics and hard-liners in his party by pressing ahead
with economic reforms required to meet certain EU criteria before
accession negotiations can begin.
Against the odds and considerable opposition,
he has started to make Croatia look outward.
"It is hard to explain the changes,"
said the deputy foreign minister, Hido Biscevic, who is not a
member of any political party. "We made a decision to move
toward Europe. This meant addressing our relations with Serbia.
It meant treating the Serb minority in our country without discrimination.
It meant allowing refugees who fled during the war to return.
It meant building homes for them. It meant returning property
to Serbs. We are now doing all these things."
For several years, these issues, along with the
Gotovina case, dogged Croatia's relations with the EU in a way
that only helped the nationalists.
"Some in the HDZ did not want change because
it meant confronting the past and the problems arising from the
wars," Biscevic said. "Besides, they would lose their
A few months into the job, Sanader surprised
the old guard in his party by shaking up the leadership in an
attempt to nudge the HDZ toward becoming a more European-type
Then last month Sanader went to Belgrade, making
the first visit to the Serbian capital by a Croat head of government
since Yugoslavia broke up in 1991. The sooner "Croatia becomes
an EU member state," he promised his hosts, "the faster
Serbia and Montenegro will join."
Sanader has also started changing the top tier
of Croatia's intelligence services.
Croatian officials who requested anonymity said
they would not be surprised if hard-liners in the intelligence
services and Sanader's party had withheld information from the
government and The Hague over Gotovina's whereabouts.
"We are not looking for scapegoats to explain
why we have not caught Gotovina," a Croatian official said.
"You must remember he is seen by many as a hero who defended
Under pressure from Theodor Meron, president
of the UN tribunal in The Hague, Sanader recently replaced the
head of counterintelligence and will put all the security and
intelligence services under a special supervisory board.
For experts trying to prepare Croatia for EU
negotiations, the Gotovina problem will not go away.
"It is always in the background," said
Tamara Obradovic, deputy minister for European integration, who
since 1999 has been trying to prepare Croatia for membership talks.
"Still, once we get the date to start negotiations
with the EU, it will be a signal for the region as a whole,"
Obradovic said. "It will also be a real twist in history.
Croatia always saw itself as being different from the region.
And now it is tying itself toward the region."