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Dzurinda: Majority of EU supports EU-Croatian talks

SLOVAK Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurindaon March 22 in Brussels said that a majority of the EU25 member states agree with beginning EU accession talks with Croatia.

He gained this impression when he broached the topic during a working dinner of EU representatives, although he has not revealed the names of specific supporters, news wire TASR reported.

Only Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia have so far openly expressed support for Croatia.

The four countries intend to submit a proposal to begin talks by the end of June. The proposal also suggests taking Croatia up on its suggestion to send an EU mission to the country to monitor its cooperation with the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Dzurinda is greatly impressed by Croatia's progress and by the fact that its government invited an EU monitoring mission to its capital, Zagreb.

Dzurinda does not believe ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte's assertions that Croatia's failure to extradite General Ante Gotovina (accused of war-crimes) shows insufficient cooperation with the tribunal.

"I get the feeling that del Ponte wants to punish Croatia, rather than judge it," he said.

Last December the EU set a date of March 17 for beginning accession talks with Croatia, provided the country cooperated completely with ICTY.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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