US embassy cables: US and UK clash over Croatia’s EU membership bid

I’m a bit late with this WikiLeak, which the UK Guardian published on Dec. 9. I’m excerpting just the most important parts:

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000694
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
EMBASSY SARAJEVO FOR DAS JONES
EO 12958 DECL: 01/01/20[09]
TAGS PREL, PGOV, ICTY, EUC, HR
SUBJECT: PUSHING CROATIA FORWARD ON ICTY COOPERATION AND EU ACCESSION
Classified By: Amb. James Foley, reasons 1.4 (b) & (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: After making difficult concessions in order to conclude an Arbitration Agreement with Slovenia, Prime Minister Kosor now confronts an ongoing UK and Netherlands blockage of Croatia’s EU accession path, inspired by ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz. This impasse has the potential to endure as the GOC [Government of Croatia] likely cannot produce documents demanded by the prosecutor, and Brammertz seems unwilling to settle for anything besides the documents. Brammertz also refuses to assist the GOC in its investigation. Importantly, the impasse could undermine the U.S. stake both in the Kosor-led reform process in Croatia and the region’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Accordingly, post recommends that we register our differences with Brammertz’s assessment at the December 3 UNSC discussion of ICTY and consider high-level approaches to the UK and Netherlands urging that the EU make Croatia’s ICTY cooperation a closing rather than an opening benchmark for Chapter 23 accession negotiations. END SUMMARY.

CROATIA’S EFFORTS TO SATISFY ICTY
2. (U) Prime Minister Kosor, Justice Minister Simonovic, Interior Minister Karamarko and Chief State Prosecutor Bajic all met with visiting Special Envoy for War Crimes Issues Ambassador Stephen Rapp and Ambassador Foley on November 27, to describe Croatia’s continuing efforts to cooperate with the ICTY and Prosecutor Serge Brammertz in the search for missing artillery documents in connection with the 1995 Operation Storm and the Gotovina case.

6. (U) The immediate problem is that several EU member states (in particular the UK and the Netherlands) have refused to allow Croatia to open accession negotiations on Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) pending a clean bill of health on ICTY cooperation. Brammertz has indicated that he will continue to demand that Croatia produce the missing documents throughout the entirety of the appeals process. Thus Croatia could be facing a prolonged and indefinite blockage of its EU accession.

7. (C) UK Ambassador Blunt (protect) told Ambassador Foley last week that some key officials in London regard Croatia as virtually unchanged since the Tudjman era [which was a revival of the Nazi era] and are inclined to assume GOC bad faith in its dealings with the ICTY. UK Ministers were unlikely to budge on Chapter 23 in the face of a negative assessment from Brammertz.

A NEW U.S. APPROACH
9. (C) The stakes for the U.S. of an enduring impasse on this issue are high — not only a prolonged blockage of Croatia’s EU accession with implications for internal stability, but a closed EU door to the rest of Southeastern Europe. We therefore propose a U.S. effort aimed at unblocking Croatia’s Chapter 23 negotiations and encouraging intensified Croatian efforts to cooperate with the ICTY… Another aspect would be to press Brammertz to show more readiness to accept a credible investigation by the Croatians as adequate cooperation, and to provide assistance to Croatian efforts. Ultimately, we should urge the EU to allow Chapter 23 to open, with a closing benchmark being the implementation of further steps to bolster the credibility of the continuing GOC investigation or the delivery of the requested documentation.

So not only is Croatia’s unrequited Nazi identity not an issue for America, but as with Kosovo — where our lawmakers poo-pooed the idea of some standards being met before statehood being bestowed — so too in this case do we see the U.S. pushing for the goodies to be granted (EU membership) before any standards are met to earn it.