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Finland and Sweden, members of the European Union (EU) but historically neutral, have each held internal debates that could lead to requests for NATO membership. If the Swedish government still hesitates, the Finns can formalize their request on May 12.

Successful application for NATO membership requires a consensus within the organization that promotes an “open door” policy for all who meet the political, economic and military criteria set forth in the 1995 Study on Enlargement: A Good have a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; treating minority communities fairly; are committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts; being able and willing to make a military contribution to NATO operations; and to promote democratic civil-military relations and institutions.

Article 10 of the 1949 Washington Treaty, which describes the accession protocol, specifies that it is registered when “all NATO member states have informed the Government of the United States of America, depositary of the North Atlantic Treaty, their acceptance of the protocols to the treaty regarding the accession of potential new members”. Croatia, member of the Alliance since 1er April 2009 threatens to oppose these two alleged memberships.

Specifically, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic formulated the following blackmail on April 26: Finland’s NATO membership is nothing but dangerous charlatanism, it’s like teasing a rabid bear by sticking a pen in its eye. We must block it until we find a solution to the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” He refers to the acute political crisis that has been unfolding in Sarajevo for several months and in which the Bosnian Croat minority feels hurt, especially by the electoral system.

But there is no link between this crisis, for which the EU is responsible, and the expansion of NATO. Milanovic was reminded of this by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, his main political rival, in a political system akin to the Fifth Republic in times of cohabitation. The Prime Minister (from the center right) leads the government with the support of Parliament, and the President (from the center left), who is elected for five years in general elections, is the head of state, as is the Chief of the Armed Forces, who has his say on foreign policy. The president’s comment last month that Ukraine “Corrupt State” prompted the prime minister to apologize to the Kiev government and drive the wedge between the two, with Plenkovic suggesting that Milanovic “Russian Agent”

Could this crisis at the highest level of the Croatian state affect the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO? The question has not been resolved. According to this article from the Croatian newspaper Jutarjni List translated by International mail Croatia could block the accession of Finland and Sweden or any other country to NATO, Atlantic Alliance diplomatic sources confirm. The Croatian president could prevent any expansion if it is he who represents his country at the next Atlantic Alliance summit, to be held in Madrid at the end of June. NATO states that it is not for it to decide who will represent Croatia in NATO, nor how this country will harmonize its position within decision-making bodies. The choice is Croatia’s.

For Zarko Puhovski, professor of political science at the University of Zagreb, quoted by Bloomberg, “Milanovic’s job is to harmonize and stabilize the functioning of institutions, but what he does is exactly the opposite. In what is essentially a state-level interpersonal conflict, it threatens to tarnish Croatia’s reputation in Europe and damage the country’s reputation. †

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