% of GDP
In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became an independent communist state under the strong hand of Marshal TITO. Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it took four years of sporadic, but often bitter, fighting before occupying Serb armies were mostly cleared from Croatian lands. Under UN supervision the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998.
Update No: 074 - (19/06/03)
The pope comes to Croatia
Pope John Paul II is a remarkable pope, like him, love him or loathe him, as people do. He stirs up controversy like no other modern pope, excepting Pacelli, the "Nazi Pope" as De Gaulle trenchantly called him during the war. John Paul II is another strong right-winger, an anti - communist, an anti - abortion and - birth control pope, but a populist able to relate to his Catholic constituency.
For the 100th visit of his papacy, he decided to visit Croatia, the staunchly Catholic republic of former Yugoslavia (Slovenia is also mainly Catholic). He had been several times before to Croatia so did not feel the need to go to the two most populous cities, Zagreb and Split. He conducted masses at Rijeka and Osijek, but did not attract the huge crowds of his earlier visits, an ailing figure clearly on the way out.
The visit underlines for all that the Roman Catholic character of the country and the pope advised women to welcome their "lofty vocation" as wives and mothers. He urged ethnic reconciliation, something, with which the President, Stipe Mesic, and the premier, Ivaca Racan, concur. Ever since the Second World War and then again the 1992-95 civil war, Croatia has been haunted by ethnic strife between Serbs and Croats of a particularly vicious kind.
Turning the corner
The economy is not faring too well, but not too badly either from a low base. GDP is rising by 3-4% per annum, indeed has been for some years. But this has not reduced unemployment, which is well over 20%.
The one hope is that EU entry, due later this decade, will integrate the economy into Europe. Already tourism is making a big impact, Croatia having in Dubrovnik and other coastal cities and in its many offshore islands a range of fine sites for visitors to enjoy. The weather becomes very hot in the summer, but sea breezes mitigate this on the coast. Croatia should soon rival Italy, Spain and Portugal as a magnet for tourism from all over Europe.
25% stake in INA to be sold before summer
A quarter of Croatian state-owned oil group, INA, will be sold before summer, Vice Prime Minister, Slavko Linic, said in a statement, Hina News Agency reported. "I expect that 25% plus one INA share will be privatised in the near future, we have three very interested potential strategic partners," Linic said at a conference entitled "The Government's Economic Policy - Privatisation." The government official also noted that the recapitalisation of the Croatian Postal Bank would be finalised by the end of September, in collaboration with the World Bank's International Finance Corp. "The government's priority task is the management of state-owned real estate and its use in the economy," Linic said.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Croatian premier discusses economic cooperation with Irish deputy premier
Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan attended a working lunch in Dublin on 14th June, during which he discussed Croatian-Irish economic cooperation with Ireland's Deputy PM, Mary Harney, HINA News Agency has reported.
Also present were representatives of Ireland's government, employers' association, chamber of commerce and Foreign Ministry. Racan told reporters afterwards that he and Harney, who is in charge of economy, discussed ways of boosting trade and Irish investments in Croatia.
Finance minister tells EBRD'S annual assembly Croatia open for business
Thanks to its economic results, Croatia has reason to believe that it will become a member of the European Union in 2007. As one of the more developed countries and a membes of the WTO and the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), it is open to interested business partners, Croatian Finance Minister, Mato Crkvenac, said at the annual assembly of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Tashkent on 5th May, HINA News Agency has reported.
Since 1993 the EBRD has invested more than 1bn euros in Croatia, of which 60 per cent has been invested in private businesses, Crkvenac said.
Croatia also has very good cooperation with other European financial institutions, such as the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe's Development Bank, and it believes that the growing trust of the financial market will help it strengthen its position in the region and attract more investors, he said. The minister especially stressed the EBRD's role in privatisation processes and development of small and medium-sized businesses.
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