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Croatia: President Defends Membership In Council Of Europe

Strasbourg, 13 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Croatian President Franjo Tudjman Saturday defended Croatia's membership in the Council of Europe, saying there should be no doubt about its belonging the community of European nations.

Tudjman said that in the year since Croatia was accepted as a member of the 40-nation Council, it has made what he called "indisputable progress" in complying with the commitments it undertook to the organization. He said that the Croatian people were shocked and frustrated by what he described as one-sided and biased presentation of conditions in Croatia.

Tudjman spoke at the two-day Council of Europe summit meeting in Strasbourg, France on Saturday.

Tudjman's remarks were seen by Council officials as a defense against the U.S. government's recent efforts to get the Council to suspend Croatia's membership because of its recent human-rights abuses and failure to implement the Dayton peace accords on Bosnia.

Earlier last week, Croatia handed over to the International Tribunal in The Hague 10 suspected Bosnian Croat war criminals, an action the U.S. had called for under the Dayton agreements.