The talks about the entry of Croatia to NATO's Partnership for Peace program will be speeded up on all levels. Basically, the common interests for that have been strengthened after the deepening of the crisis and instability in Serbia, with so far uncertain outcome. That means that the USA is prepared for a more liberal interpretation of the conditions for entry into the Partnership for Peace program, but also that Croatia must in the shortest possible time fulfill at least the basic conditions. The USA especially insists on the conditions in connection with the basic democratic principles - electoral law which would provide equal chances for all and appropriate media reporting of the pre-election campaign.
Minister Granic went to Washington with an announcement that the political parties with the representation in the current Parliament could in the next five to six weeks agree about the new electoral law and the rules for the media behavior during the pre-electoral and electoral period. If these promises are fulfilled, Croatia could receive American support for the entry into the Partnership for Peace, avoiding or postponing fundamental changes in the [state-controlled] Television, and in the rules of the reporting about the pre-electoral campaign, which is the most important of the changes as far as the US is concerned. On the other hand, the expectations of the return of refugees from FR Yugoslavia were to be reduced in the new circumstances: the current situation in Serbia simply is not conducive for a more intensive return [of Croatian Serb refugees].
After the beginning of the NATO intervention in Serbia and the escalation of violence in Kosovo, and destabilization of Albania and Bosnia-Hercegovina, the interest of the USA for stable Croatia as its main ally in the region has increased, state the Croatian diplomatic sources. At the same time, these very same events have demonstrated to the Croatian side the importance of being under NATO protection in the volatile region and the importance of pulling out of that region by getting closer to the Western integrations. The Albright-Granic meeting is the result of a mutual recognition of these interests. The greatest danger for the improvement of relations charted in Washington can be an attempt to break the promises given there in connection with the electoral laws and reporting of the pre-election campaign, and all for the sake of short-term domestic political interests.
"Croatia has been behaving towards the USA as a partner and an ally," announced Granic and expressed his conviction that equivalent behavior will follow from the other side. A visible sign of the improvement in the partnership between Croatia and the US was an intensified economic cooperation, for example, the recently approved American credit for the construction of the highway Bregana-Dubrovnik or the cooperation of HEP [Croatian Electrical Utility Corporation] with American companies.
Granic announced, that next week Minister of Finances Borislav Skegro, and Governor of the Croatian National Bank Skreb will hold talks with the officials of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Croatia will request credits from these two organization and has already received American support for that, since it is obvious that Croatia is suffering financial damage because of the NATO attack on FR Yugoslavia. In the talks, Minister Granic and American State Secretary Albright also mentioned President Tudman's suggestion of holding a conference of the countries which border FR Yugoslavia and the Contact group. Problems in connection with the division of the former Yugoslavia's assets were also mentioned. In that, it is significant that the US Administration stated that its view is that the Yugoslav diplomacy has not had the right to use the embassies of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.
Granic discussed with his American colleague the problem of the Prevlaka peninsula and the already familiar demands of the International Community in connection with the Croatian media and the new electoral law. Granic expressed his belief that a consensual agreement with the opposition regarding the new electoral law will be achieved soon.