Croatia’s EU membership negotiations could be completed in first half of 2011

Croatia’s EU membership negotiations could be completed in the first half of 2011 provided Zagreb pushes ahead with reform, according to a resolution adopted by Parliament on Wednesday. Yet the biggest challenge may be “selling” the benefits of EU membership to a sceptical Croatian population, the EP press service announced.

The fight against corruption, support for returning refugees and the restructuring of shipyards are among the remaining challenges facing the country. However, MEPs acknowledge that major efforts have been made to change the constitution, reform the judiciary and co-operate more closely with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

In a resolution adopted by 548 votes to 43 with 52 abstentions, MEPs congratulate Croatia on its “substantial progress” in introducing the reforms needed to join the EU. “Negotiations with Croatia can be completed in the first half of 2011 provided that the necessary reforms continue to be pursued resolutely”, says Parliament. The resolution notes the considerable improvements to the constitution and to the judiciary, as well as Croatia’s closer co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It stresses, however, that the tribunal’s request for important military documents remains unanswered. Regarding the ongoing judiciary reforms, the resolution underlines the need “to proceed quickly with the prosecution of war crimes” and to improve witness protection.

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