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(E) Letter to EU Commission and reply
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  09/28/2003 | Letters to the Editors | Unrated
(E) Letter to EU Commission and reply

Letter to EU Commission and reply

I am sending you once more the letter I wrote to the President of the EU Commission, Mr. Prodi, so you can compare it with the answer I received today. Their letter is below mine.
Hilda Foley

The majority of the Croatian population approves of Croatia's entering into the EU and we find the conditions which you mentioned in order to be accepted inconsistent with the ones' other
countries were required to meet.

You mention for example "the return of refugees". As you must realize,
Croatia has only recently come out of a brutal war of aggression by
Serbia, in which these Croatian Serb refugees were the ones who rebelled
against Croatia and with the help of the Yugoslav/Serb army killed some
twelve thousand and "ethnically cleansed" several hundred thousand
Croatians in their own country, destroying and plundering their homes and

No other country in the world has been forced to forgive and forget so
soon what has been done to it. May I remind you that the Czech Republic,
which is accepted into the EU, has not allowed its Sudeten German
refugees to return or compensate them for their material losses even
after more than fifty years. This was not a requirement by the EU for the
Czech Republic. Therefore, is it not obvious that the EU stand in regard
to Croatia and the refugee situation is quite unfair and inconsistent.
Furthermore, one has to realize that it was first the Croatians who were
driven out by the Serbs (1991-1995), years before in 1995 Croatia
liberated its Krajina territory and the Serbs left on the orders of their
own leadership.

Consequently, the returning long-time Croatian refugees must have
preference for housing. Since Serbs destroyed most of Croatians' homes,
out of necessity Croatians have been settling in some of the Serb ones'.
Croatia after the ravages of war simply does not have the money to build
homes for all the refugees, Croatian or Serb. This problem should be
understood by the EU and not held against Croatia.

The other great inconsistency is the requirement for Croatia to open its
borders without visa requirement to Serbia/Montenegro and
Bosnia-Herzegovina. If the EU wishes open borders between nations, why
has Slovenia, next in line for EU membership admittance, been allowed to
seal its borders with Croatia while Croatia must open its borders to its
recent aggressor Serbia? Certainly the EU leadership must know about the
huge criminal element in Serbia, Bosnia and Albania, with drugs, white
slavery and people smuggling among other criminal activities in addition
of providing easy access to terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists. Just
why would then the EU require Croatia to freely open its borders to be
inundated with such undesirables? Croatia does not want them or need them
any more than any other European country. Obviously, such an EU demand of
Croatia is totally unfair and detrimental.

Last but not least, Slovenia was part of former Yugoslavia and will be
accepted into the EU, on what grounds is Croatia less eligible? Slovenia
was never in history a state, while Croatia was one of the oldest
European kingdoms centuries ago. Croatia was never part of the Balkans as
the border was between Croatia and Serbia. It divided the Western culture
and Christianity from the Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine and Muslim culture
and religion. Croatia only became part of the Balkans when, without the
privilege of a vote, it was united with Serbia and Slovenia into
Yugoslavia in 1918. Croatians are simply not Balkan people, they are
Central and Mediterranean Europeans, historically and culturally.

Excellency, please consider these facts and do not let the EU push
Croatia into these Balkan associations to which it does not belong any
more than does Slovenia and which goes against the wishes of the Croatian

Very truly yours,

Hilda Marija Foley
American Croatian Association
13272 Orange Knoll
Santa Ana, Ca. 92705 USA

Here is the answer:

External Relations Directorate General
Directorate Western Balkans
The Director

Dear Ms. Foley,

Thank you for your letter of July 22 2003 addressed to the President of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi. Mr. Prodi's cabinet has asked me to reply on his behalf.

I appreciate your close interest in EU-Croatian relation in general and, more specifically, in President Prodi's recent speech in the Croatian Parliament. However, some of your remarks cannot be deducted from this speech or need to be clarified.

First of all, regarding your rethoric question whether Croatia is less eligible for EU membership than slovenia, I limit myself to recalling the following dates: Slovenia applied for EU membership in June 1996. The Commission Opinion was issued in 1997 and Slovenia started negotiations in March 1998. These negotiations were concluded in December 2003 and, following the ratification of the accession treaty, Slovenia will join the EU in May 2004. Croatia applied for EU membership in February 2003 and the Commission is now in the process of examining this application in order to prepare its opinion.

The criteria for accession are the same for these two countries as well as for all countries applying for membership. Membership requires that the candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for the protection of minorities; the existence of a functioning market economy, as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union; and the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aim of political, economic and monatery union.

As you can see from these conditions, there is simplyno place for ethnic discrimination within the European Union. It is therefore consistent that the European Union, within its Stabilisation and Association Process, insists on refugee return, be it in Croatia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina or in Serbia and Montenegro, be the refugees of Croatian, Serb or of any other origin. Within its CARDS programme, the European Commission has been providing significant financial assistance for housing reconstruction in Croatia in order to facilitate refugee return.

Finally, the European Commission has not required Croatia to open its borders without visa requirements to Serbia and Montenegro. However, it welcomes and promotes all initiatives leading to increased co-operation and exchanges, including business exchanges, between these two countries. The fight against organized crime which you mention is also a prime example of a problem that can only be tackled if all the countries of the region co-operate. Moreover, regional co-operation is of course an excellent training ground for membership in the European Union: after all the EU itself is an example of very advanced regional co-operation and integration.

Yours sincerely,

Reinhard PRIEBE

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