(E) Croatia, Japan discuss U.N. reform, EU membership
Croatia, Japan discuss U.N. reform, Zagreb's future EU membership
Monday April 11, 5:08 PM
(Kyodo) _ Visiting Croatian Foreign Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and her Japanese counterpart Nobutaka Machimura discussed United Nations reform Monday, though Croatia has yet to express support for Japan's bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat, Grabar-Kitarovic said.
Machimura conveyed Japan's support for Croatia's future membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, she added.
On the United Nations, the Croatian minister told Kyodo News in an interview soon after meeting Machimura that the two sides "discussed some of the aspects of the reform" but that Japan's bid for a permanent seat remains an issue for continued discussion and that Zagreb has yet to announce an official stance.
Turning to Croatia's EU accession talks, scheduled for March 17 but shelved by the EU citing Zagreb's failure to hand over a war crimes suspect, Grabar-Kitarovic said, "We are hoping to reopen negotiations as soon as possible. We believe we are doing whatever we can and we hope that the EU will come to this conclusion."
EU foreign ministers have refused to start membership talks with Croatia, citing its failure to help find war crimes fugitive Gen. Ante Gotovina. He is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for the alleged murder of ethnic Serbs at the end of the 1991-1995 Serbo-Croatian war.
Croatia insists it has done all it can to find Gotovina, but U.N. tribunal prosecutor Carla del Ponte accuses it of not having tried seriously to arrest him. "We are very much determined to fulfill all the criteria for (EU) membership, including this criteria of cooperation with the ICTY and we would really like all the countries in the EU to reach this consensus," said Grabar-Kitarovic.
Meanwhile, Croatia is expecting to get an invitation to join NATO in late 2006, together with Macedonia and Albania.
As for bilateral relations with Japan, the Croatian minister said she and Machimura agreed there are no open issues between the two countries and that they both would like to expand cooperation especially in trade and multilateral initiatives.
"We believe we can greatly contribute towards global stability --we both have experience in the past which taught us certain lessons that we can share with others and find more mutual understanding," she said.
Grabar-Kitarovic arrived in Japan Sunday together with Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor. They are scheduled to attend the Croatian National Day at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture on Tuesday before wrapping up their visit the following day.