The guilty verdicts in the Gotovina case will have far reaching effects for Croatia and indeed elsewhere. The legal consequences could be complex and costly for the hard pressed Croatian state.
Serbia justified its war against Croatia by saying Serbs were under threat. The judgement vindicates Serbian claims for war, essentially saying that people like Milosevic had that right – it should not just be Croats who should be rightly concerned. Some will ask if he was right on Croatia was he right on Bosnia-Herzegovina? Kosovo? Even Slovenia? These issues were discussed in the eve of verdict article by the CBR editor here.
However, many will be interested in what this means for Croatia’s accession to the EU. The EU is certainly unpopular with the Croatian population. This verdict will not help matters. However, it is very much in the hands of Brussels. If the EU demands that Croatia prosecutes people over Operation Storm, to stop celebrating the liberation of Croatia, pay compensation to the Serbs, give them special rights in Croatia and so on Croatian public opinion could tip completely against the EU in a referendum. Will countries traditionally hostile to Croatia such as the UK make such matters an issue?
At the moment it is not clear what the EU will do – if it does not create issues then Croatian public opinion on the EU may be positive on referendum day.
We will see what happens in the next few weeks.