Croatia to Deliver EU Progress Report in January

Croatia must show the EU in January that it is moving towards fulfilling the final criteria for membership in the bloc, an official said following meetings on Wednesday.Zagreb is expected to submit a report by the end of January on its progress towards completing the 10 tasks highlighted in the European Commission’s comprehensive monitoring report, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Vesna Pusic said in Brussels on Wednesday.

Pusic made the remarks after meeting with European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.

The Commission is due to release another report on Croatia in March, Pusic explained, and Zagreb’s document must be completed before then. The Balkan country is set to join the bloc on July 1, 2013.

Pusic’s talks with Reding also focused on the recent decision by the Hague-based UN criminal tribunal to clear two Croatian generals- Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac- of war crimes.

“We have considered this topic, which is not part of those ten tasks but has cropped up in discussions in the European Commission and among member states after the generals’ acquittal,” Pusic said. The ruling, which was condemned by many in Serbia, was welcomed by Croatia.

Pusic said that reactions to the judgment in Croatia were moderate and in line with the EU’s position that the acquittal means the two generals are not responsible for war crimes, but does not mean that no crimes were committed by either side during the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

“This also does not mean that Croatia will cease prosecuting war crimes suspects. We have prosecuted and we are prosecuting and we will prosecute (those crimes),” Pusic said.

The Croatian minister presented Reding with a review compiled by the country’s prosecution offices which identifies all cases solved thus far and cases currently underway.

The policy chapter “Judiciary and Fundamental Rights” is one of three chapters in Croatia’s EU negotiations , along with “Competition Policy” and “Freedom, Justice and Security”, that have received particular focus in the monitoring of Croatia’s progress towards EU membership.

Some of the members of the 27-strong bloc are waiting for the Commission’s last report on Zagreb before they complete their ratification of Croatia’s Accession Treaty with the EU.

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