Cross-border tension flares ahead of Croatian elections

21-11-2003

The former Yugoslav states of Slovenia and Croatia have recently been embroiled in diplomatic clashes over a range of issues, from territorial borders to a jointly run nuclear power plant. But how much of the tension between Slovenia and Croatia is game playing at government level? Croats vote this weekend to elect a new government. Past parliamentary elections in the country have been marked by national rhetoric and have also been criticised by the European Union. Kerry Skyring asked Dr Erhard Busek, Special Coordinator of the EU's Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, if he was satisfied with the way this election campaign has been run

"I think we are satisfied. Maybe there are some criticisms coming up but we are not aware that there are irregularities and we are looking forward to fair elections."

Yet tensions do arise, with Slovenia for instance over fishing rights in the Adriatic. Once this election is over would you expect Croatia to resolve that particular issue?

"We should separate this. First of all a lot of actions are done for home consumption, and it's a part of the campaign. Also I would say a lot of problems of the countries coming out of former Yugoslavia are not yet solved. There are the fishing rights, banks; I think it is a long list, which is existing. I am expecting that the two governments will sit together and will look forward."

The HDZ, the party of former President Franjo Tudjma; if this party joins the next Croatian government what would be your reaction?

"I think from my point of view, also for the HDZ, there is no alternative to the way to Europe. And I am expecting that the HDZ is adapting to this. As far as I know the leader of the party is fully aware of this. Maybe it might create some difficulties internally but they have to adapt to this situation because in general the great majority in Croatia wants to go to the European Union."

And you would be able to work with such a government?

"My job is to work with governments as long as they are not anti European and as long as they are not against their neighbours which would be silly for sure. They have to fulfil conditions for sure and the questions will be the same for the current government and for another government afterwards, or the same government. Some questions remain even if there's a changed election result."

21-11-2003