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Croatia Will Begin EU Membership Negotiations in 2005

At an EU summit being held in Brussels, Croatia was officially given candidate status on 18 June and will begin negotiations to join the EU in early 2005, Reuters and Hina reported.

In a draft communique released the day before, the EU said that Croatia must improve in a number of areas, including minority rights, the right of return for refugees, judicial reform, cooperation in the Balkans, and intensifying the fight against corruption.

The EU also called for Croatia to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Zagreb has said it wants to join the EU together withBulgaria and Romania in 2007, but many analysts say this is more likely to happen in 2009, Reuters noted.

(RFE/RL 18.vi.04)

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