Books on Croatia
% of GDP
Update No: 090- (27/10/04)
Looming presidential elections; maverick candidates abound
The incumbent president, Stjepan Mesic, is highly likely to win imminent
elections for his office. But he is facing competition from mavericks outside
the normal domestic political arena.
One of them is more used to a very different sort of arena. Former Croatia
soccer coach Miroslav Blazevic, who led the Balkan country to third place at the
1998 World Cup, is planning to run for president in elections due by February,
but which might be held as early as December 21st.
"Certain people have convinced me to run for the presidency, since they
believe I could win," Blazevic -- nicknamed 'Ciro' -- told the Jutarnji
List daily. "They told me that I was the only one who can beat (President)
The date for the elections is not yet fixed but they are due to be held by
February, when Mesic's five-year term expires. Mesic has said he would run for a
Blazevic claimed he could get the 10,000 signatures required to list as an
independent candidate "in 24 hours." "I only need an announcer at
the Zagreb stadium to say that Ciro needs 10,000 signatures," he said.
The 68-year-old, who recently recovered from prostate surgery, is currently
coaching Croatian first division side Varteks Varazdin.
Yet another outsider is a Minnesota man who fled Eastern Europe more than 30
years ago and found success as a businessman there
Boris Miksic returned to his Croatian birthplace recently to begin his campaign
to lead the developing Balkan country, even though few think he'll make any
impression on voters there. Journalist Slaven Jelenovic, the managing editor of
a Croatian news agency, gives Miksic little chance of success.
But Miksic can't forget a conversation he had with former Gov. Rudy Perpich, the
son of an immigrant Croatian who spent his final years promoting trade
relationships between the new country -- part of the former Yugoslavia -- and
"Perpich was a really close friend," Miksic said. "Right before
he died, he said to me, 'You know, Boris, one day you need to run for president
"That stayed in my mind, but I wasn't ready for it for a long time,"
Miksic told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis in an interview before he left the
country. "Then last year, I was looking at all the political parties over
there, how it's a country in transition that needs focus, and I decided it was
time for me to go back."
Jelenovic said few people know anything about Miksic, who is 55.
"The current president has such a high approval rating that no one from the
current political scene, never mind an outsider, can pose a serious threat to
his re-election," he said.
Even so, Zbigniew Bochniarz, senior fellow and director of the Centre for
Nations in Transition at the Humphrey Institute, said he wouldn't write off the
candidacy. He points to other naturalized Americans who "went home"
and won high positions in such new democracies as Lithuania and Latvia.
"These societies are tremendously open to embracing these people,"
"They need now to really strengthen their economy, and with his American
experience he would bring a lot of good ideas about tolerance and
multiculturalism to that part of the world," he said. "This is
something that might work. It could be a good match."
According to recent polls, President Stjepan Mesic is the most popular
politician in the country. He is credited with reducing the powers of the
presidency, investigating illegal activities by the previous regime and
preparing the way for Croatia to join the European Union in 2007 and NATO
Boris Miksic, who has received 1 per cent to 2 per cent support in recent polls,
said Croatia needs to break out of a cycle of left-right politics involving
leaders bound to old parties and old traditions.
"We need new faces, new ideas," he said. "We need people who are
independent thinkers who have succeeded in life and proven themselves in
business or science."
Solana calls Croatia, Slovenia to solve border row through dialogue
Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991
but have been unable to agree on their common border ever since. In particular
there is a dispute about the Piran Bay area, the main outlet of Slovenia to the
Slovenia, which gained membership of the EU last May, could theoretically
prevent Croatia from becoming a member of the bloc, as the support of all the
EU's 25 states is required for the approval of new members. Croatia is expected
to start formal negotiations for membership next year, with a view to entering
the EU in 2007.
But the dispute between Slovenia and Croatia reflects issues left over from the
break-up of Yugoslavia that continue to hinder relations between all of the
former socialist state's six republics. Slovenia is in dispute with Croatia over
access to international waters and over two small stretches of land, one near
the Slovenian town of Piran and the other at the country's southeastern border
with Croatia, near Zagreb. Croatia claims most of the territorial waters along
Slovenia's coast, effectively denying it full access to international waters. An
accord was signed by the two countries in 2001, but Croatia has since declined
to ratify it. The issue heated up when Croatian border guards arrested a group
of men in a 'provocation' led by a member of the Slovenian Parliament, Janez
Podobnik of the opposition Slovenian People's Party, in the disputed Piran Bay
area after they refused to show their identity cards. The arrests were filmed by
a television crew and broadcast on Slovenian television the same evening.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on 5 October urged Croatia and Slovenia to
solve their border row through dialogue. "It should be solved in the spirit
of Europe. That is the spirit of dialogue, negotiations, the spirit which is the
opposite of violence," Solana told journalists after meeting Croatian Prime
Minister Ivo Sanader in Zaghreb.
The neighbouring states reached an agreement on the disputed Piran Bay area in
2001, but the deal was widely unpopular in Croatia and Zagreb never ratified it,
even though Croatia has an extremely long coastline and several deep water
ports, whilst Slovenia has a minute littoral and one small port at Piran
Croatia ready to start accession talks with EU: commissioner
The European Union's enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen said on 13
October that Croatia is fully prepared for the start of accession talks with the
EU due early next year.
"Croatia is not only sufficiently, but extraordinarily well prepared for
beginning ... negotiations," Verheugen said at a press conference after
meeting Prime Minister Sanader.
Sanader reiterated the country's goal to fulfil all membership criteria by the
end of 2007. "It is the ambition of this government to conclude talks with
the European Commission in 2007, and than it will be up to the EU to decide on
the date of accession," he said.
Verheugen's two-day visit came as the UN war crimes chief prosecutor Carla Del
Ponte renewed pressure on the Balkans country to detain fugitive general Ante
Gotovina, whose case has previously hampered Zagreb's EU bid. Del Ponte urged
the Croatian authorities to detain Gotovina, as she attended an EU foreign
Verheugen said he received assurances from the government that it would do
everything possible to bring Gotovina to justice. "I have no doubt that
Croatia will do its best to fulfil that condition, but the country cannot do
more than is possible," Verheugen said, adding that "if he (Gotovina)
is not in Croatia it might be difficult for the prime minister to arrest
him." Croatian authorities say the 49-year-old retired general has fled the
Full cooperation with the Hague tribunal is a key political condition Croatia
has to fulfil before joining the bloc, along with the return of ethnic Serbs who
fled the country during the 1991-95 Serbo-Croatian conflict and regional
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia charged him three
years ago with war crimes against ethnic Serbs during the war.
Croatia was granted official EU candidate status in June.
Croatian oil major discovers oil, in addition to gas, in Syria
In addition to large quantities of gas, INA [Croatian oil industry] has also
found considerable quantities of oil in Syria. The discovered gas fields are
larger than expected and so far registered with the Syrian Ministry of Oil and
Mineral Materials, Vjesnik reported.
Large quantities of oil have been discovered within the scope of the new
research at the Jihar field in Hayan block, for which INA has a 100 per cent
concession. INA experts expect daily production of about 500 tonnes at the
Jihar-2 well alone, and they estimate that, on the basis of the research
conducted so far, there could be several million cubic metres of oil in the
According to them [INA experts], in addition to the oil in the Jihar field, the
volume of gas discovered is at least 50 per cent higher than expected and
registered with the Syrian Ministry. This will all considerably increase the
value of INA's concession at the Hayan block as well as the expected profit,
which INA experts have so far estimated at about 50 million dollars.
Poland backs Croatia's EU drive
Poland wants to see Croatia in the European Union and NATO, President Alexander
Kwasniewski said following official talks with visiting Croatian President,
Stjepan Mesic, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reported.
"Poland is prepared to provide far reaching political support and to share
its experience in legislative and economic transformation as well as
negotiations and initial experiences following EU entry," Kwasniewski said.
Mesic thanked Kwasniewski for Poland's "strong support" for what he
termed Croatia's "strategic goals." Croatia is expected to begin
accession talks with the EU early next year and hopes to join the bloc in 2007
when it is on track to admit Bulgaria and Romania.
Croatia attracts US$548m in foreign investments in first half of 2004
Croatia attracted US$547.8m in foreign investments in the first half of 2004,
according to figures from the Croatian National Bank released recently, HINA
News Agency reported.
The first six months of this year saw a fall in direct investments compared to
the same period last year when they totalled about US$990m.
The head of the central bank's Statistics Department, Igor Jemric, recently
explained that this was the result of the fact that reinvested profits had a
substantial share in last year's overall foreign investments.
Although the largest portion of the foreign investments in the first half of
this year, notably US$266.2m, also accounted for reinvested profits, this amount
was considerably smaller than at the same time last year when the retained
profit was US$657.2m.
Owner investments yielded US$213.5m, mostly in the trade sector. In the first
half of this year 37.5 per cent of owner investments accounted for non-specialised
retail shops, 12.7 per cent for non-specialised wholesale of food, and 8.7 per
cent for wholesale of pharmaceutical products.
Most direct foreign investments came from Austria (28.9 per cent), Germany (22.5
per cent), Italy (10.8 per cent) and Luxembourg (10.1 per cent). Austria and
Germany have been the leading investors in Croatia over the past ten and a half
Of the total of US$10.1bn in direct foreign investments in Croatia since 1993,
25.7 per cent have come from Austria, 20.7 per cent from Germany, 14.7 per cent
from the United States, 6 per cent from Hungary, 5.8 per cent from Luxembourg
and 5.7 per cent from Italy. Those were mostly owner investments, totalling
US$6.4bn, made during the privatisation period.
Most of the direct owner investments were made in the telecommunications sector
(20.9 per cent), the banking sector (19.6 per cent), the pharmaceutical industry
(11.3 per cent), petroleum production (7.8 per cent), cement production (3.3 per
cent), hotels and motels (3 per cent) and trade (about 3 per cent).
Over the last ten and a half years, Croatian companies have invested US$1.2bn,
of which 32.3 per cent in Switzerland, 16.5 per cent in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 12.8
per cent in Poland and 9.9 per cent in Serbia and Montenegro. Most of the
investments abroad (US$1.1bn) accounted for owner investments, and 56 per cent
of owner investments accounted for the pharmaceutical industry.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Croatia, Iran sign memorandum on economic cooperation
Croatian Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship Minister, Branko Vukelic, recently
received Iranian Minister of Cooperatives, Ali Sufi, Vukelic's ministry said,
HINA News Agency reported.
Vukelic and Sufi signed a memorandum on cooperation between the two ministries.
Vukelic said Croatia-Iran trade had gone up in the first six months of this
year, but added not all possibilities for improving economic cooperation had
Vukelic and Sufi expressed the two countries' interest in cooperating in
shipbuilding and infrastructure projects, as well as in making Croatian ports,
notably Rijeka, Iran's gateway to Central and East Europe.
Croatia, Morocco sign investment stimulation treaty
Croatia and Morocco signed a treaty on the mutual stimulation and protection of
investments, which ended the visit of a Croatian economic delegation to that
country, the Croatian Economy Ministry said recently, HINA News Agency reported.
The Croatian delegation, led by State Secretary for the Economy, Vladimir
Vrankovic, held talks with officials of Morocco's ministries of industry and
trade, foreign affairs, finance and foreign trade. Both sides expressed a wish
to improve economic cooperation.
Talks were also held between representatives of Croatian and Moroccan companies,
as well as with Morocco's state-owned companies in the road-building, rail and
energy sectors. An agreement worth 3.5m euros was signed with Moroccan state
An agreement was also signed between the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and
Development and the Moroccan Export Insurance Agency.
Better Israel-Croatia ties
Israel is to improve relations with Croatia, by appointing a resident ambassador
for the first time since establishing diplomatic relations seven years ago, the
Israeli Foreign Ministry said recently. Ministry spokesman, David Saranga, said
that since ties were established in September 1997, Israel had been represented
in Croatia by a non-resident ambassador based in Austria, New Europe reported.
"We are going to open an embassy in Zagreb and appoint a resident
ambassador in the near future," Saranga said. In the 1990s, Israel accused
Croatia's then-President Franjo Tudjman of generating nationalism reminiscent of
World War II, when about 30,000 Jews perished in concentration camps run by
Croatia's Nazi puppet state.
Another T-Mobile re-branding
Croatia's Hrvatski Telekom (HT) will be re-branded as T-Hrvatski Telekom, or
T-HT, New Europe reported recently.
At the same time, two separate brand segments will be formed: T-Com for
fixed-line and online and T-Mobile. The re-branding was announced at a Zagreb
press conference by T-HT CEO, Ivica Mudrinic, and a Deutsche Telekom board
member. The latter emphasised that, "a strong brand is of decisive
importance for the further development of the market and the positioning of HT
as a leading provider in future competition."
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