Poland's foreign minister says the European Union (EU) will not start entry talks with Croatia unless that country hands over a top fugitive war crimes suspect to The Hague tribunal.

Adam Rotfeld told reporters a March 17 date has been set for the talks. But he warned that unless Croatia surrenders General Ante Gotovina, the European Union will simply not open the discussions.  The Polish minister, whose country gained EU membership last May, made his comments after talks in Warsaw with the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte.

The prosecutor confirmed that she had sent a letter to the European Union, criticizing Croatia for failing to arrest General Gotovina.

The Hague court indicted the general for his role in the deaths of civilians during a 1995 Croatian army sweep through a Serb-held area of the country.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.