Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Death of European Dream

While Račan's (Racan's) government failed to make some palpable improvement over Tudjman's regime in the domestic policy areas, Croatian diplomatic position vastly improved and Račan was right when he claimed that Croatia was well on its way to become full-fledged member of NATO and EU.

However, his foreign policy successes recently turned into dismal failures. The unwillingness to confront Tudjman's brand of Croatian nationalism – the very basis of Račan's policy before and after 2000 elections – has plagued first his domestic reforms, then poisoned initially warm relations with foreign countries. The end of long honeymoon was, paradoxically, result of Račan's success in handling Hague Tribunal, the very bogeyman that had mobilised Račan's enemies from Croatian far right. Two of Croatia's best known (and, consequently, most popular) war crimes suspects remained outside Hague courtroom, partly through the good work of Račan's diplomacy – General Norac was tried and sentenced in Croatian court and General Bobetko was allowed to die before being shipped in Hague. But the third general, Gotovina, continues to poison relations between Hague, EU bureaucrats and Croatian politicians. Gotovina's decision to evade prosecution and Croatian government unwillingness to do something about is getting increasingly insulting not only to Carla del Ponte, but also to many European diplomats who used to champion Croatia's cause.

The decision to create marine conservation zone in Adriatic – cheap attempt to pander to nationalist sentiments at the eve of elections (although not radical enough for Croatian right, even such "moderates" as Sanader's HDZ) – also proved to be counterproductive. By proclaiming marine conservation zone Croatia chose confrontation with Slovenia and Italy, two member countries of EU. Slovenia already threatened that it would retaliate by blocking Croatian entry in EU.

Račan's grand plan of entering EU by 2007 (together with Bulgaria and Rumania) seems to be shattered. In most likelihood, Croatia would enter EU together with its eastern neighbours. For most Croatian nationalist, Croatia in EU that includes Serbia is nightmare instead of a dream.


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