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Cablegate: Prodi in Croatia: Encouragement for Eu Bid And

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001587

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE (NARDI) AND PM (LINO)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EU HR
SUBJECT: PRODI IN CROATIA: ENCOURAGEMENT FOR EU BID AND
THANKS FOR NOT SIGNING ARTICLE 98


1. On July 10, EC President Romano Prodi visited Croatia to
present the Commission's membership "questionnaire" to PM
Racan. In meetings with President Mesic, PM Racan's Cabinet
and an address to the Croatian parliament as well as in
meetings with religious leaders and opposition parties, Prodi
encouraged Croatia to continue its efforts toward membership.
Prodi said Croatia has made "noticeable progress" and that
the question of EU membership for Croatia is "no longer if,
but when and how."

2. Prodi dispelled the persistent public misconception that
the EU will support Croatia's membership only as part of a
regional grouping of Balkan countries. Nevertheless, he made
a strong appeal for regional cooperation and for Croatia to
use its front-running position to help other states in the
region make progress toward the EU. He made clear that much
work remains ahead and that no aspect of the public sector
will be unaffected as the GoC moves along the "arduous but
exhilarating road to membership."

3. Prodi hit all the right notes when urging progress toward
reform: he commended Croatia's progress in some fields, but
called for further efforts in reform of the judiciary,
freedom of the media, respect for minority rights and the
return of refugees. Prodi told the press and parliament
(full text of Prodi's address at para 5 below) that some of
the more than 2500 "questions" in the document he handed to
the GOC addressed cooperation with ICTY. He said that full
compliance is essential, and added that only the UN and the
ICTY itself can judge Croatia's level of cooperation; the EC
will base its judgment on whether Croatia is in cooperation
based solely on their evaluation. Reactions of all of
Croatia's leadership were identical: Croatia is committed to
do whatever it takes to move forward as quickly as possible
towards membership. After the opposition's meeting with
Prodi, even Ivo Sanader, President of the right-wing HDZ,
said that he was "absolutely" for full cooperation with the
Hague.

Prodi Thanks Croatia For Saying "No" to Article 98
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. For us, the major sour note was Prodi's very public
message of thanks to the GoC for refusing to sign an Article
98 agreement with the U.S. In his address to parliament, his
meetings with President Mesic and PM Racan, and in the press,
Prodi praised Croatia for standing up to pressure. "I know
that by not signing one (non-surrender agreement) Croatia
made a sacrifice and I am grateful for that. Because of
that, Croatia will not be forgotten."

Text of Prodi Address to the Croatian Parliament
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. Begin text of EC President Prodi's July 10 address to the
Croatian parliament:

President, Honorable Members,

On 21 February the Croatian authorities delivered the
country's application for membership to the Greek Presidency
in Athens.

I believe there are few acts in a country's history that can
have such far-reaching implications.

By submitting that application, Croatia has reaffirmed its
European vocation. And by the same token it has declared that
the long and trying period of war, division and nationalism
is well and truly over.

That application demonstrated Croatia's determination to look
to the future as it sets off along the arduous but
exhilarating road to membership.

I heard the news in Skopje, which I was visiting at the time,
and I warmly welcomed the membership application.

I was convinced, and I still am, that it marked a critical
turning point for Croatia and set a very important example
for all the other countries in the region.

So I am very happy that I will be shortly handing over to the
Croatian authorities a comprehensive, wide-ranging document,
technically termed a "questionnaire."

This questionnaire contains over 2,500 questions on the
political, economical and administrative situation in the
country. The answers will form the basis for the
Commission's opinion on the starting of accession
negotiations.


Our journey together starts today and in some years' time it
will take Croatia into the European Union. A Union that is
enlarging and growing stronger, that will soon have a
Constitution, the result of intense debate between
governments, parliaments and the public.

And today I am here to share in the emotion, the expectation
and anticipation this great journey evokes.

It is a journey of mutual discovery.

In the coming months we will discover more about each other.
We will learn more about each other's systems and we will see
how compatible they are. We will adapt our instruments and
procedures, and this harmonisation process will mean we will
soon share the same rules.

Our fellow citizens will get to know each other better, to
understand where we come from -- our different histories,
cultures and traditions -- and how we have got where we are
today.

We will learn to live side by side in a Union of diversity
and minorities, because no Member State of the Union is large
enough to take decisions alone without coordinating them with
the others.

This factor has become a distinctive trait of Europe, where
respect, tolerance and the search for consensus are the rule.
Where coercion is outlawed. Where dialogue has replaced
diatribe. Where shared rules, worked out in common and
decided jointly, are the foundation for life within the Union.

It means bringing legislation and implementation of new rules
into line with the Union's standards.
No sector of administrative life will remain unaffected by
this process of adaptation to EU rules.

And yet all the countries that have gone through this
strenuous and at times painful process have come out
stronger, with a hugely enhanced capacity to meet the
challenges of international life.

This is true of all countries in the Union, from the founding
members to those that are still to become full members. It
involves a process of continual growth and constant
adaptation.

The whole country must help in this complex and delicate
process.

All society, all Croatians -- both men and women -- need to
speak out loud and clear in favour of membership. The
institutions must rise to the challenge and give guidance,
with all the enthusiasm, patience and determination they can
muster.

Parliament, and you, Honourable Members, have a special
responsibility, since it is your task to legislate and
support the reform process politically.

This is my earnest hope and appeal to you.

Keep your eyes fixed firmly on your country's interest and
its aspiration to join the great European family of nations.

That was what you did in December last year when you voted
unanimously in favour of a resolution supporting Croatia's
application to join the European Union.

That spirit of unity is a great strength, particularly given
the range of opinions that is typical of a democratic society.

That spirit of unity, based on a shared European ambition,
will be vital in tackling the problems and issues that have
to be resolved to complete the membership process.

The country's political, economic, legal and administrative
transition was a huge challenge for Croatia.

You met that challenge successfully on several counts, but
further effort is needed in areas such as the reform of the
judicial system, freedom of the media, respect for minority
rights and the return of the refugees. It calls for a major
effort on the sensitive issue of cooperation with the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Your country has already shown it can make tough choices in
the name of the European idea. I am thinking of the
International Criminal Court, where Croatia has decided to
align itself on the Union's Common Position and back the
authority of an institution that will act as a safeguard for


all members of the international community.

This is the basis for building a future together in Europe:
it means sharing the same vision and creating the tools to
build it.

President, Honourable Members,

Only a few days ago we met in Thessaloniki for a summit that
marked a crucial turning point for the region.

On that occasion the members of the European Council solemnly
declared that the Balkan countries' future is in the European
Union. At the same time they stressed the Union's firm
support for the integration of the Balkans into the Union.

Before this House, I want to repeat my full and firm support
for integrating the Balkans into the European Union.

And I will never tire of repeating that Europe's unification
can never be regarded as complete until all the countries in
the region are full members of the Union.

The political agenda agreed at Thessaloniki is a joint
commitment and it charts the course we intend following
together.

We have bolstered the Stabilisation and Association Process
by including the salient aspects of the enlargement strategy.

We have stepped up political dialogue.

We have put the stress on the problems of growth and economic
development, because we are convinced that growth and
employment are the most effective ways of combating poverty
and social exclusion, the breeding ground for crime and
illegal trafficking.

The Union is ready to do its part and the Commission is keen
to get on with the work before it.

But this is a two-way street.

You need to show the same enthusiasm and determination.
Indeed, the pace and tempo of integration will be set by you.

The Union's rules are clear: respect for the Copenhagen
political criteria, a functioning market economy and the
capacity to adapt to the rules and regulations of EU law.

The Union asks for no more. But it will accept no less.

For my part, I am certain Croatia can rise to the challenge.

Your country also has a special responsibility, because at
present Croatia is in the forefront. It is for you to "set a
good example" and show that the goal can be reached if the
political will is there and you are ready to follow in the
footsteps of Europe's founding fathers.

President, Honourable Members,

I want to stress how important it is never to lose sight of
the regional reference framework.

The whole - I repeat, the whole - of the Balkans must come
into the European Union.

No wall, no barrier must divide the Balkans. That would be
unthinkable. We know only too well how much suffering such
divides have caused.

There is no nostalgia for the past in what I am saying.

Just the profound conviction that it is time to build bridges
in the Balkans, not destroy them. To open borders, not to
close them. To restore relations and trade links, not to
sever them.

It is no coincidence that regional and subregional
initiatives are thriving in the region. Like the Stability
Pact, the South-East Europe Cooperation Process, the Central
European Initiative and the Adriatic-lonian Initiative. And
agreements too, such as the Memorandum of Understanding on
the Regional Electricity Market in South-East Europe and the
Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin. And the network,
now complete, of bilateral free-trade agreements between all
the countries in the region.

Development, stability and security call for a regional
approach. No country can regard itself as free from the risk
of instability if the others are not free from that risk too.

Naturally, this does not mean that Croatia will have to wait
until every other country is ready to join before it becomes
a member.
The principle of differentiation will continue to apply and
each country will be judged on its own merits and capacities.

But the process of enlargement for the Balkan countries is
one and indivisible. And ultimately the region as a whole
must be fully integrated into the Union.

President, Honourable Members,

Let me close by reminding you of a date: 24 November 2000.

That day, here in Zagreb I attended a Summit that launched
the process of integrating the Balkan countries into Europe.

That Summit also marked the start of talks between the
European Union and Croatia on our Stabilisation and
Association Agreement.

At the time I was full of hope that Croatia would make fast
progress towards European integration.

Today I am sure your country has really started on the
journey that will take it into the European Union as a full
member.

To je vasa i nasa zajedicka buducnost.

Hvala lijepo.

End text.
FRANK
NNNN

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