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Cablegate: Croatia About to Complete Eu Questionnaire, Says Outgoing Deputy Minister of European Integration

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

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001901

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA ABOUT TO COMPLETE EU QUESTIONNAIRE, SAYS OUTGOING DEPUTY MINISTER OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

1. ALTHOUGH ICTY COMPLIANCE COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS, CROATIA
IS WELL ON TRACK IN ITS EUROPEAN INTEGRATION EFFORTS. THAT
IS WHAT OUTGOING DEPUTY MINISTER OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION,
MIRJANA MLADINEO, TOLD US AUGUST 28, ON HER LAST DAY ON THE
JOB. SHE STARTS SOON IN BRUSSELS AS AMBASSADOR TO
CROATIA'S EU MISSION. SHE TOLD US THAT LINE MINISTRIES
GENERALLY KEPT INTERNAL GOC DEADLINES TO COMPLETE THE
CANDIDACY QUESTIONNAIRE DELIVERED BY ROMANO PRODI IN EARLY
JULY. THE WORK OF THE MINISTRIES, SHE SAID, WILL BE VETTED
BY OCTOBER AND DELIVERED TO BRUSSELS SHORTLY THEREAFTER.
SHE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT SOME 29 QUESTIONS, COVERING MOSTLY
ECONOMIC STRATEGIES, HAD BEEN SENT BACK TO THE RELEVANT
MINISTRIES FOR MORE WORK -- BUT FOR THE MOST PART THE WORK
WAS ON TIME.

2. STRESSING CROATIA'S NEED TO KEEP AMBITIOUS DEADLINES IN
ORDER TO MOVE THE PROCESS ALONG, MLADINEO SAID SHE HOPED
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION WOULD APPROVE CROATIA'S CANDIDACY
BY APRIL 2004 -- A TIMELINE WHICH WOULD ALLOW THE GOC TO
START NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EU BY THE FOLLOWING FALL.
TIMING IS CRITICAL, SHE STRESSED; CROATIA WANTS TO START
NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE THE ACCESSION OF ANOTHER TEN NEW MEMBER
COUNTRIES SET FOR NEXT SPRING. MLADINEO GAVE CREDIT TO THE
GOVERNMENT FOR THE PACE OF ITS WORK: IT HAS ACCOMPLISHED
THE COMPREHENSIVE TASK OF ANSWERING THOUSANDS OF QUESTIONS
NEEDED FOR ITS EU CANDIDACY IN A MATTER OF MONTHS IN AN
ELECTION YEAR. FOR ITS PART, THE PARLIAMENT HAS ADJUSTED
TO EU STANDARDS SOME FIFTY LAWS IN TIMELY FASHION, MANY
OVER RECENT WEEKS. THOSE INCLUDE THE LABOR ACT, BROADCAST
MEDIA ACT, ANTI-MONOPOLY ACT, FOOD ACT, AND GENDER EQUALITY
ACT.

DARK CLOUD
----------

3. THE BIGGEST CLOUD ON THE HORIZON, MLADINEO CONCEDED,
WAS THE STABILIZATION AND ACCESSION AGREEMENT (SAA) --
WHICH HAS STILL NOT BEEN RATIFIED BY THE UK AND THE
NETHERLANDS; THEY ARE HOLDING OUT OVER CROATIA'S HANDLING
OF ITS ICTY OBLIGATIONS. THE DEPUTY MINISTER REGRETTED
INCLUSION OF CROATIA'S LEADING INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL, ANTE
GOTOVINA, BY NAME NEXT TO MLADIC AND KARADZIC IN THE RECENT
SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION OVER THE TRIBUNAL'S WORK. THIS
WAS UNHELPFUL AND UNFAIR, SHE SAID -- ADDING, HOWEVER,
THAT, EVEN IF FULL SAA RATIFICATION IS DELAYED OVER
CROATIA'S RECORD ON COOPERATION WITH THE ICTY, THE WORK OF
HER MINISTRY WOULD MOVE IN PARALLEL TO THE SAA PROCESS.
(THE BRITISH CHARGE CONFIRMED TO US AUGUST 29 THAT, IN
PRACTICAL TERMS, THE EC WOULD NOT LIKELY ACT POSITIVELY ON
CROATIA'S APPLICATION, THE "AVIS," BEFORE THE SAA IS
RATIFIED BY ALL EU MEMBERS.)

COMMENT
-------

4. THE POLITICAL CHOREOGRAPHY OF CROATIA'S EU BID IS
LOOKING A BIT MORE AWKWARD THAN IT DID A FEW MONTHS AGO.
WHAT PM RACAN WANTS TO DO IS GET THE EU QUESTIONNAIRE
COMPLETED AND DELIVERED TO BRUSSELS IN TIME TO CALL
ELECTIONS, WHICH ARE WIDELY EXPECTED IN NOVEMBER. WHILE
THE EC BUREAUCRACY ASSESSES WHAT WILL BE THOUSANDS OF PAGES
OF DOCUMENTATION, RACAN AND HIS CURRENT COALITION PARTNERS
WOULD CAMPAIGN -- TRUMPETING THE PRIORITY THEY PLACE ON
EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. HOWEVER, UNLESS ALL CURRENT EU
MEMBER STATES RATIFY THE SAA, RACAN WILL HAVE SOME
EXPLAINING TO DO. AND BY NEXT YEAR, THE 10 NEW MEMBERS
COULD IN EFFECT BE HANDED, AS CURRENT MEMBERS HAVE, A VETO
OVER CROATIA'S SAA. RACAN MAY BRISTLE AT THIS PROSPECT --
PARTICULARLY WITH RELATIONS WITH SLOVENIA LOOKING
INCREASINGLY STRAINED OVER A MARITIME DISPUTE.
FRANK


NNNN

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