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EU Chief tells Balkan countries to 'Tear down Walls'

European Commission President Romano Prodi arrived in Zagreb on 10 July with a 150-page document containing 2,500 questions that the Croatian government must answer before that country can be admitted to the Brussels-based bloc, Reuters and Hina reported.

He met with top government and opposition leaders. Prodi called on the countries of what the EU calls the "western Balkans" -- Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro -- to work together if they want to join the EU.

"I want to stress how important it is never to lose sight of the regional reference framework. The whole, I repeat, the whole of [the] Balkans must come into the EU. No wall, no barrier must divide the Balkans," he stressed.

Few things anger most Croats more than to be called "Balkan" and linked in any context to Serbia. Referring to obstacles Croatia faces in seeking EU membership, Prodi argued that "further efforts are needed in areas such as the reform of the judicial system, freedom of the press, respect for minority rights, and the return of refugees."

(RFE/RL 11.vii.03)

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