ECONOMY

Not the best time to apply

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatia will delay for up to two weeks its plan to apply for European Union membership while the 15-nation bloc focuses on efforts to overcome divisions over Iraq, officials said yesterday. «It’s just our luck that our good intentions should coincide with so many bad things,» a government official said. Croatia was due to submit its application to current EU president Greece in Athens on February 18, but the official said Greece had asked Prime Minister Ivica Racan in a formal note to postpone his visit. «We are talking about a short delay, a week or two at most, because of the EU summit scheduled in Brussels next Monday, which might continue on Tuesday as well,» said a Foreign Ministry official. Racan may hand in the application either in Brussels between February 24 and 26 or in Athens in early March, the ministry official said. Faced with growing divisions over Iraq in NATO and the European Union, Greece has proposed an emergency EU summit for next Monday to discuss Iraq policy after top weapons inspectors present a new report to the UN Security Council on Friday. Croatia’s reformist center-left government won an associate membership accord in 2001, after ousting nationalists from power a year earlier.