Ausgabe 19/2007

Croation President Stjepan Mesic The EU 'Won't Work without Us'

SPIEGEL speaks to Croatian President Stjepan Mesic about his country's ambition of joining the European Union, corruption in Croatia and his country's judicial reforms.

Croatian President Stjepan Mesic believes the EU should not close its doors to Balkan countries.

Croatian President Stjepan Mesic believes the EU should not close its doors to Balkan countries.

SPIEGEL: Accession to the European Union in 2009 is the most important foreign policy goal of your government. In contrast, there is a definite weariness with enlargement within the Union. How realistic are your efforts?

Mesic: The project of European unification cannot be completed without the southeast part of the old continent. On this point, some in the EU lack realism. The old countries must understand that it will not work without us.

SPIEGEL: The southeast also includes other states and areas of the Balkans that are very unstable politically. Some members of the EU fear that the accession of Croatia would awaken false expectations in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kosovo, for example.

Mesic: The best way to avoid instability is to give these countries opportunities -- that is, the possibility of adopting European values. The solution is not to close the doors to the EU but to open them.

SPIEGEL: EU members must fulfil the Copenhagen criteria on the rule of law and democracy, for example. Brussels, however, regularly criticizes the uncontrolled corruption in your country.

Mesic: We have begun to fight corruption seriously. The political will to do this is necessary and it exists.

SPIEGEL: Internationally, the Croatian judiciary is not considered independent.

Mesic: We are in the midst of a judicial reform. Still, we have proven that we can carry out complicated trials of war criminals, including ones that involve crimes against minorities.

SPIEGEL: Do you admit that members of the Serbian segment of the population are still subject to violent attacks?

Mesic: It is not as gloomy as you think. Much has happened since the war. Admittedly, there are still sporadic attacks but I reject them categorically. Showing indoctrinated people the right way requires great efforts.


© DER SPIEGEL 19/2007
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