According to Southeast Europe Online, Croatia has recently made the decision not to accept former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz’s plea to receive asylum in Croatia despite the fact that he has not yet been officially released from prison in Baghdad. No matter how one looks at it, the Croatian government definitely made the right choice for both its political interests as well as the good of its people.
One would think that if Aziz was really “in his last days," as his lawyer put it, he would give full cooperation to the people who would give him permission to leave Iraq. This is reason enough for the Croatian government’s refusal to allow Aziz into their country.
When the Croatian government first received the request, Ivana Crncic, the spokeswoman for the Croatian Foreign Ministry, did not give any hint to reporters if they would respond to the request. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, Crncic, added that such a request will not be answered to or even considered until official notice is made by Iraqi authorities that Aziz will indeed be allowed to leave Iraq.
This is definitely a smart move on the part of Croatian government officials as the European Union watches their every move, as the country is seeking admittance into the European Union.
Allowing Aziz into Croatia’s borders would also anger many of its own citizens, many of which will probably charge the government for protecting a foreigner over Ante Gotovina, a Croatian general that is considered a hero by many Croatians.
He is currently being tried in the Hague for war crimes that were believed to have been committed during Croatia’s 1995 operation aimed to take portions of Croatia back from the Serbs.
The most puzzling thing out of all this is why Tariq Aziz would choose Croatia as his “safe haven” in the first place, especially since Croatia never had any ties whatsoever with Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The reason that Aziz’s lawyer and his family gives is that Croatia is an entirely neutral country in the war in Iraq, but this, however, cannot be the only reason. The biggest reason that may come to mind is that by being given asylum in Croatia, Aziz is given access and communication to the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina who were known to be supporters of Al-Qaeda. Croatia’s decision essentially saved the United States from having to potentially deal with Aziz in the future.