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By Stefan J. Bos Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/ZAGREB (BosNewsLife)-- The European Commission has warned Croatia that it will face sanctions unless it applies EU extradition law. The threat comes shortly after the heavily Catholic nation joined the European Union on July 1st as the 28th member state.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, said Croatia could face cuts in the crucial financial aid it is expecting to receive from the European Union. Discussions may also be delayed on the Balkan nation's entry into the borderless Schengen travel zone.
European officials say the threat of legal action is in response to Croatia's refusal to respect EU extradition legislation.
Days before entry into the European Union, Zagreb changed its laws to prevent authorities from extraditing suspects of crimes committed before 2002. This has already led to tensions with Germany, one of the EU's largest contributors.
The German government asked Croatia to hand-over the alleged ex-spy Josip Perkovic, who is sought over a Communist-era assassination, when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia.
He allegedly was involved in killing dissident Stjepan Djurekovic 30 years ago in what was then West Germany.
Croatian Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic claimed in his words "to respect the arrest warrant", but he also demanded a broader debate on the subject within member states.
European Commission spokesperson, Mina Andreeva, says Croatia's lack of cooperation violates EU principles.
The “infringement of EU law goes at the heart of European judicial cooperation," she said.
"That is why Vice-President Viviane Reding will therefore bring this matter to the attention of the entire College of Commissioners next week at the first formal meeting,” Andreeva added.
EU officials are also concerned that Croatia is seeking to protect war crimes suspects of its 1991 to 1995 bloody war for independence, from facing prosecution in other member states.
Thousands of people died in that conflict.
(BosNewsLife's NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).
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