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CROATIA

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 22,421 20,300 19,000 63
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,640 4,550 4,600 70
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Croatia

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
56,542

Population
4,422,248

Capital 
Zagreb

Currency 
Kuna

President 
Stipe Mesic

Private sector
% of GDP 
55%

 

Update No: 089- (30/09/04)

Into the EU 
Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria could all be part of the European Union by 2007, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on September 27th, addressing his Croatian counterpart, Stipe Mesic, who was on a two-day visit to the Polish capital. "We believe that the schedule for admitting Croatia could be successfully finalized by 2007, with Romania and Bulgaria right behind," Kwasniewski told a joint conference. 
"Poland is ready to give political support (to Croatia) and to share its experience in economic and judicial transformation, entry negotiations and the first taste of life in the EU," said Kwasniewski. 
The two heads of state also kicked off an economic forum attended by Croatian and Polish businessmen. 
Kwasniewski also voiced his support for Croatia's plans to join NATO, for which a 2006 timetable has been set. 
Croatia obtained official EU candidate status in June and is hoping to become a full fledged member by spring 2005. 

Minnesotan stands for presidency
Mesic faces an unusual challenger in presidential elections in January.
Boris Miksic, a successful Minnesota businessman and friend of the late Gov. Rudy Perpich, returned to his Croatian birthplace in mid-September to begin his campaign to become president of Croatia. Since 1995, Miksic has been Croatia's honorary consul general in Minnesota. Last year, in a tune-up for his presidential race, he ran for a seat in Croatia's parliament. He received just 2 percent of the vote, but he was running as an unknown independent among more than 40 candidates, most of whom had party backing."I had nothing but a positive response from the people," he said.
Slaven Jelenovic, managing editor of a Croatian news agency, gives the 55-year-old Miksic little chance in the January election.
"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 reelection," Jelenovic said. 
"Most people still don't know who [Miksic] is, and Croatians don't vote for people they don't know politically," he said.
But Zbigniew Bochniarz, senior fellow and director of the Center for Nations in Transition at the Humphrey Institute, said he wouldn't write off such a candidacy. There have been precedents, he said: 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," said Bochniarz, who is Polish but has visited Croatia, studied its politics and speaks the language.
"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 reported by Croatian news organizations, Mesic is the most popular politician in the country. He is credited with following through on promises to reduce the powers of the presidency, investigate illegal activities by the previous regime and prepare the way politically and economically for Croatia to join the European Union in 2007 and NATO sometime later. 
Mesic also delivered indicted Croatian generals to The Hague war-crimes tribunal and ordered an end to the country's support of Croatian super-nationalists in Bosnia.
Miksic, who holds both U.S. and Croatian citizenship, said he would have many of the same aims, but he believes 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."
In Croatia, where he expects to spend much of his time until the election, he promises an advertising blitz to get his name and ideas before the public. He plans to target younger voters "because many of them aren't interested" in politics.
He said he would boost Croatian exports, reduce outside control of the nation's banks and promote eco-tourism. "We have beautiful coasts and islands," he said. "There is a lot of talent in the people, and people who have left -- who have gone to America or Australia and made success -- want to invest back there.
"We have a population of 4.5 million people, about the same as Minnesota, but the economy is about one-fifth the size. Croatia could be the next Switzerland if we had good leadership.
"I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I had a good chance," Miksic said. "But if I don't succeed, maybe I will show the path to someone else."

Croatian tourism numbers up 4%
Visitor numbers to Croatia grew 4% in the first 8 months of the year as the former Yugoslav republic continued to rebuild its tourism industry from the ashes of the Balkan wars in the 1990s, New Europe reported recently. The Tourism Board said more than 7m tourists visited the country from January to august, 4% more than in the same period in 2003. Most of the visitors were Germans, Italians, Slovenians and Czechs, it added. During the same period there were 40.4m overnight stays, a rise of 1% against the same time last year. Croatia is hoping tourism revenues this year will rise 7% to US$8.5bn. Croatia's economy was hard-hit by the 1991-95 war of independence from the former Yugoslavia. Tourism, a vital revenue earner for Croatia, has recently recovered to pre-war levels.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Croatia sees Bosnia as economic partner - president


Croatia today sees a trade and economy partner in Bosnia-Herzegovina and not a partner in political trade in borders, territory or people, Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic, said in Bosnia's Gradacac recently, HINA News Agency reported.
Mesic, who arrived in Gradacac from Brcko District as part of a one-day visit to Bosnia, together with the head of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency, Sulejman Tihic, addressed entrepreneurs who gathered at an international fair of agriculture and food-processing industry. 
"Croatia today needs Bosnia, but Bosnia also needs Croatia, not only because of the history but also because of a joint future," Mesic said at a panel discussion "Bosnia and Croatia on a path towards the EU" in which he took part together with Tihic.
"European integration processes will not be completed until all Southeastern European countries are in one part of that process and we cannot find such a future in changing borders, but in cross-border cooperation, " Mesic said.
"Meeting European standards is primarily in the interest of citizens and only then a condition for membership of NATO and the EU," Tihic said.
Speaking about the two countries' economic cooperation, Mesic said that all trade of western and eastern Europe was going through Croatia and added that the fastest way of connecting Croatia's north and south was through Bosnia. The Croatian president also stressed the importance of the southern Croatian port of Ploce and said it could become a port for the supply of the entire region.
The chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency expressed hope that the issue of agriculture would be raised to state level because, in his opinion, this would be one of the EU conditions. 
"When it comes to Croatia, we have solved the most important issues," Tihic said.
Mesic called for the strengthening of economic cooperation. He also advocated the two countries' joint presentations to third markets such as Pakistan.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS

South Africa, Croatia sign trade agreement

South Africa and Croatia on August 20th signed a trade agreement to facilitate business relations between companies in the two countries, New Europe reported.
Speaking during the signing ceremony in Pretoria, South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister, Mandisi Mpahlwa, described the trade agreement as a significant step towards strengthening bilateral trade relations between South Africa and Croatia.
Mpahlwa expressed the determination by the two countries to use the bilateral engagements to strengthen the multilateral trading system.
"The agreement broadly commits the two countries to raise the profile of South Africa-Croatia relations as well as to establish an inter-governmental committee on trade for the effective implementation of the agreement," Mpahlwa stated.
He said the two countries would grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment to each other in accordance with the principles contained in the World Trade Organisation agreement.
Meanwhile, the Croatian Foreign Minister, Miomir Zuzu, said his country and South Africa were relatively newly established democracies with similar developmental challenges.
According to him, it is in these new economies where opportunities for growth are very high and the development of modern technologies is inevitable, as more and more of the multinational corporations relocate to their markets.

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