EU urges Croatia to step up anti-corruption fight
Croatia needs a credible track record against corruption and must cooperate fully with a war crimes court before it can wrap up European Union membership talks, a top EU official said Wednesday.
The conclusion of negotiations is "within reach" but Croatia still needs to make "an exceptional effort" to fulfil requirements if it is to reach its goal of closing talks by July, said EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele.
"As with all negotiations the most difficult issues remain to be tackled in the final phase," Fuele told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Croatia has closed 28 of the 35 chapters that every nation must negotiate with the EU before joining the bloc. The former Yugoslav republic hopes to become the EU's 28th member by 2012.
Fuele called on it to establish a "credible and sustainable track record in the fight against corruption" as well as enhance the independence, impartiality and accountability of the judiciary.
The country must also address "the issue of impunity for war crimes" and cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) based in The Hague, he said.
The rights group Amnesty International said last month it would urge EU officials to continue insisting that Croatian authorities prosecute all war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 war.
Croatia stepped up the fight against corruption in the past year. A number of top officials, including former prime minister Ivo Sanader, were charged or sentenced on graft charges.
© 2011 AFP