Croatia axes Tudjman allies from ambassador ranks

ZAGREB, Aug 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) Croatia announced a shake-out of senior diplomatic staff on Monday, saying it would replace 35 ambassadors appointed during the authoritarian rule of late President Franjo Tudjman.

The center-left government, which ousted Tudjman's nationalists in parliamentary elections on January 3, said the reform answered the need for "more dynamic activity in some countries following the political changes in Croatia".

Some of the ambassadors, who were appointed by the nationalists for party political reasons, are believed to be a liability to the new government as it seeks to forge closer ties with the West. Others were nearing retirement.

The diplomats, including ambassadors to the United States and several European Union nations, will end their tour of duty after October 31, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The announcement ended weeks of media speculation about which envoys, including some seasoned career diplomats, would be axed or retired at the end of their posting.

The Foreign Ministry said the changes had already been approved by President Stipe Mesic.

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