Croatia hopes to end EU talks in 2007

Jan. 17, 2005 at 2:58 PM

ZAGREB, Croatia, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said Monday his country hoped to complete entry talks with the European Union in 2007.

Sanader's comments come a day after pro-Western President Stjepan Mesic was re-elected with 66 percent of the vote.

Analysts said Mesic and Sanader offered Croatia a powerful combination of reformist forces and made it more likely that Brussels would respond favorably to the country's EU membership request.

Croatia missed out on the last round of European Union expansion which brought in eight former communist countries from central and eastern Europe along with Cyprus and Malta in May 2004.

Romania and Bulgaria hope to join the European Union in 2007 or 2008 with Croatia seen joining in 2009.

However, Croatia remains under pressure from Brussels to find and hand over to international tribunals military officers suspected of war crimes during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

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