Pope in Croatia to push EU
Pope Benedict XVI heads to Croatia this weekend with a pro-European Union message for a region being forced to account for its bloody past to join the EU bloc.
Benedict leaves today for an overnight trip to Croatia, a Catholic bastion visited three times by his predecessor.
The long-planned trip has taken on fresh relevance following the arrest in neighbouring Serbia of fugitive wartime Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic on war crimes charges.
Like Serbia, which extradited Mladic to The Hague tribunal as a precondition for starting EU membership talks, Croatia had to produce its top wartime fugitive, General Ante Gotovina, to fulfil key EU accession requirements.
Benedict has long supported Croatia's EU bid, eager to have another stalwart Catholic country in the bloc alongside Italy and Poland.