Books on Croatia
% of GDP
Update No: 106- (23/03/06)
Grim coincidence in early March
The death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on March 11th could
not have come at a more poignant moment for the Croats. A wartime leader of
Croatian Serbs had just committed suicide at the UN War Crimes Tribunal prison
in The Hague. Milan Babic was serving a 13-year prison sentence for crimes
committed against non-Serbs in the early war years.
Fifty-year-old Milan Babic was scheduled to be in court on March 7th, continuing
his testimony against another former Croatian Serb leader, but tribunal
officials say he had been found dead in his cell at 6:30 local time on the
evening of the previous day, on a routine half-hour security check. Dutch
authorities have ruled it a suicide, and the court's president has already
ordered an internal inquiry into Babic's death.
Babic was president of the self-declared breakaway Krajina Serb republic,
covering about one-third of Croatian territory, after Croatia declared
independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. He was jailed in 2004 for crimes committed
during Croatia's 1991-1995 war.
In return for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped four other charges of murder,
cruelty and the wanton destruction of villages.
Babic was transferred to serve his sentence abroad, after judges rejected an
appeal against his lengthy sentence. He was brought back to The Hague in
February to testify in the trial of Milan Martic, another Croatian Serb.
The ultimate insider witness, Babic had also testified against Milosevic in
2002. They were allies in the early war years.
A dentist by profession, Babic had expressed shame and remorse over his actions
in Krajina. But tribunal officials say they had no indication that Babic was
depressed. One tribunal observer, however, said Babic was solemn, quiet and only
smiled once during his recent week of testimony.
Babic is the second person to commit suicide at The Hague prison. Croatian Serb
Slavko Dokmanovic killed himself in 1998.
Croats lament Milosevic's death
There cannot be many Croats who thought in the 1990s that there would ever
come a time when they would lament the demise of Milosevic.
But, with his death in March, the question of Milosevic's legal culpability for
the most brutal atrocities seen in Europe since World War Two will remain
unanswered. "It's the end of the case, it's closed," said Avril
MacDonald, an expert in international criminal law at the Hague-based Asser
Institute. "He died an innocent man. Or, at least, we will never now
know," which is rather to elevate legal proceedings above common sense.
Christian Chartier, a spokesperson for the tribunal, said, "This is tragic
for the truth... This is tragic for the victims."
In Bosnia and Croatia, officials spoke of Milosevic's terrible legacy and
expressed anger and frustration that he'd escaped justice. "He'll be
remembered because he managed to isolate Serbs and turn them against other
peoples in the former Yugoslavia, and against the international community,"
the head of Bosnia's joint presidency, Sulejman Tihic, told the FENA news
The Croatian president, Stjepan Mesic, told the Hina news agency that it was a
shame Milosevic hadn't lived long enough to receive "a sentence which he
Croatia, Albania and Macedonia Start New Campaign on joining NATO
Croatia, Albania and Macedonia are strengthening their cooperation and are
starting a new campaign to become NATO members, countries' Prime Ministers Ivo
Sanader, Sali Berisha and Vlado Buckovski announced on February 28th in Drac at
a joint press conference, cited by Montenegrin agency MINA.
"Today is an important day for the region. We will start a new campaign for
joining NATO under the motto "An Invitation No Later Than 2008",
Macedonian Prime Minister Buckovski stressed after their meeting in Drac.
Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader announced that the first thing the three
Prime Ministers will do is send a joint letter to NATO Secretary General Jaap de
Hoop Scheffer just before the next NATO meeting, due in Riga.
Croatia and Estonia pledge mutual cooperation
Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic, and his Estonian counterpart in Zagreb
pledged cooperation between the two countries, New Europe reported recently.
"There are no bilateral issues between the two states, so Estonia and
Croatia could and should deepen mutual cooperation on the European plane,"
Mesic said after meeting Estonian President, Arnold Ruuter. "We will strive
to convey Estonia's experience in joining the European Union to Croatia, as a
friendly country," Ruuter stated, adding that Estonia wishes to help
Mesic also used the opportunity to condemn the running of the disputed
caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, which has fuelled massive protests among
Muslim believers worldwide, in Croatia's National weekly, a move already
renounced by the Croatian government and Parliament.
"The right compromise between freedom of expression and the need not to
offend anyone's religious feelings must be found," said Mesic. Ruutel was
accompanied to Croatia by an Estonian business delegation, which is to meet with
representatives of the Croatian business community and discuss economic
A regular flight to and from Croatia's sea resort of Dubrovnik and the Estonian
capital Tallinn will be established, it was announced after the meeting. Estonia
was one of the first countries to recognise Croatia's independence in 1991. The
two leaders met to discuss further ways of mutual cooperation on a range of
issues between the two countries.
Glaxosmithkline to buy Pliva's institute
A leading Croatian pharmaceutical company, Pliva, has decided to sell its
research institute in Zagreb to the GlaxoSmithKline, and the transaction could
reach US$50 million, the Croatian company said, Hina News Agency reported.
"GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) today announces a deal in which it has reached
agreement for the purchase of PLIVA Research - Institute Ltd, PLIVA's
proprietary R&D arm in Zagreb, Croatia. The closing of the transaction is
expected to occur during April 2006, subject to obtaining necessary regulatory
approvals," GSK, a research-based pharmaceutical company with headquarters
in the UK, announced on its web site. Under the terms of the agreement, PLIVA
will receive an upfront payment of US$35 million and, conditional on the entry
of certain early stage projects into clinical development, contingent payments
totalling up to US$15 million. Thus the total potential cash consideration may
be up to US$50 million. The Croatian company reported that after the sale of a
majority of its proprietary brands in the United States and the sale of the
research institute, it will now fully focus on its generics business.