news 29 Aug 13

Croatia Bows to EU Pressure on Arrest Warrants

After a public warning from Brussels, Croatia on Wednesday pledged to harmonise its legislation on arrest warrants with that of the EU.

Boris Pavelic

"Croatia will undertake the necessary measures to harmonise its law on judicial cooperation with European acquis communautaire," Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in a letter to the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barrosso.

The Commission noted that Croatia's Justice Ministry had sent a separate letter to the European Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, with the same message.

The letters "indicate a constructive approach", and "the Commission welcomes that", Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva said.

She added that "it now has to be seen whether expected legislative measures will be taken after these positive political intentions".

The dispute between Croatia and the Commission erupted in June, when Croatia passed a law on European arrest warrants, nicknamed "Lex Perkovic", limiting the application of such warrants to crimes committed after August 2002.

The law's nickname stemmed from suspicions that it was brought in to shield Josip Perkovic, a former operative with the Yugoslav state security agency and the Croatian secret services.

He is wanted by Germany for questioning in relation to the murder of a Croatian businessman there in 1983.

Croatia's parliament adopted the law on July 28, its last working day before Croatia joined the EU.

In a letter sent to Croatian Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic in July, Commissioner Reding said Zagreb’s move was not in accordance with European legislation and must be corrected.

Despite that warning, Prime Minister Milanovic persisted that the government would not change the law.

But after Commission then threatened to implement concrete measures against Croatia, he changed his mind within a day.

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