news 10 Sep 13

EU Official Slams Croatia Over Arrest Warrants

European justice commissioner Viviane Reding criticised the Croatian government’s reluctance to change its law on arrest warrants to meet EU requirements.

Boris Pavelic

“I'm sorry I must say this, but the Croatian government is doing very badly for Croatia and its reputation,” Reding said in an interview with RTL TV on Monday.

After a public warning from Brussels, Croatia at the end of August agreed to change the so-called ‘Lex Perkovic’, a law which limits the application of European arrest 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, who is wanted for questioning by Germany over the murder of a Croatian businessman there in 1983.

Croatia's parliament adopted the law on July 28, its last working day before the country joined the EU, thus contravening its EU accession agreement, in which there's no limitation for the application of European arrest warrants.

Reding expressed frustration about Zagreb’s attitude.

“The European commission is the keeper of EU agreements, and if a country doesn't respect what it signed and breaks the promise and the law, the European commission has to say that this can't stay like this,” she said.

Reding also said in Brussels that she expects a “swift and unconditional change” of the legislation.

However Croatian media have speculated that government does not plan to change the Lex Perkovic before autumn 2014, raising fears that the European commission could punish Zagreb.

Possible punitive measures could include the withholding of money from European funds or denying Croatia access to the Schengen border regime, media have suggested.

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