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Croatia: Council Of Europe Considering Suspension

Strasbourg, 24 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Member states of the Council of Europe are currently considering a request by the United States that the 40-nation body suspend Croatia's membership because of it human-rights violations and failure to implement the Dayton peace accords.

But Council officials tell our correspondent that it unlikely that the organization will comply with the U.S. request, made last week in a letter from the State Department and just disclosed.

The officials say that reaction among many members of the Council's Parliamentary Assembly has been negative. They say the parliamentarians are resentful of what they consider unduly strong pressure from the U.S., which has only observer status at the organization.

The Parliamentary Assembly is holding its autumn session this week at Council headquarters in Strasbourg. The organization, which promotes human rights and democratic values throughout the continent, has 16 members from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Officials also emphasize that the Council intends to follow its own procedures for monitoring pledges made by Croatia when it became a member last November. They say the process will begin in the next few months with a visit of Parliamentary Assembly members to Croatia, and will not be concluded until sometime next year.

Croatia's entry into the Council was delayed for several months last year after the U.S. asked the Council to help put pressure on Zagreb to sign the Dayton accords. But Council officials say that the organization would never undertake suspension unless its own monitoring of Croatia's human-rights record turns up flagrant violations.

No member state has ever been suspended by the Council. After a military coup in the 1960s, Greece withdrew from the organization before it could agree on formal suspension.