Why is Croatia not in the first wave?
JANE'S FOREIGN REPORT:
An article in "Jane's Foreign Report" asks, "Why is Croatia not in the first wave of countries due to enter the European Union in 2004?" According to most economic indicators, the article says Croatia "is actually ahead of several of the current candidates for EU accession in 2004." Several EU officials in Brussels "would rather have Croatia in the union than, for example, the ever-problematic Romania." So, the article asks, "What is the problem?"
"The answer is simple," it says: "EU politicking. In the 1990s, while other Central European countries were beginning to gear up for their North Atlantic Treaty Organization and EU membership, Croatia was otherwise engaged. There was the unfinished business of the war, which only ended in 1995. In addition, Croatia's unpopular authoritarian ruler throughout the 1990s, Franjo Tudjman, worried the international community with his expansionist designs on Bosnia.
After Tudjman's death in 1999, Croatia began "making up for lost time" under the leadership of Ivica Racan. "It is now in the World Trade Organization and in NATO's Partnership for Peace Program.... [Since] 2000, Croatia has also been cooperating, much better than previously under Tudjman, with the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague."
The article predicts that Racan's coalition will be victorious in general elections next year. And this "should speed up Croatia's return to favor as Southeastern Europe's top hopeful, on course for EU entry."
(RFE/RL's Dora Slaba contributed to this report.)