Books on Croatia
% of GDP
Update No: 108 - (30/05/06)
The US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, is certainly throwing his
weight about on the world stage these days. He was in Vilnius in early May where
he fulminated against the retrograde regimes in Moscow and Minsk, addressing the
assembled company of Baltic and Caucasus leaders, plus those of Ukraine and
Dubrovnik Summit Meeting Of US-Adriatic Charter
He then went to the Balkans. A summit meeting of the prime ministers of Croatia,
Albania and Macedonia, all members of the US-Adriatic Charter, was held on May
7th in the southern Croatian seaside resort of Dubrovnik, and Cheney attended
this forum aimed at promoting cooperation between the three aspirants for NATO
Opening the event, the meeting's host, Croatia's premier, Ivo Sanader, expressed
gratitude to the United States for launching this initiative for the
establishment of the said charter, which he said was useful for Croatia's
efforts to join NATO. "NATO membership is a strategic goal of Croatia, that
is aware that peace and security cannot be achieved in isolation. We recognise
in NATO a uniquely efficient political and defence alliance based on the values
of peace, freedom, democracy and market economy," the Croatian premier
Since the visit of US President Bill Clinton in 1996, Cheney has been the
highest US official to arrive in Croatia, Sanader said, emphasising strong ties
between Washington and Zagreb.
The US Vice President expressed strong support for the aspirations of the three
members of the US-Adriatic Charter for joining the Euro-Atlantic community,
adding that Albania, Croatia and Macedonia had made great headway. "We
deeply appreciate the fact that the three countries have already been engaged
alongside forces of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq,"
He described the Dubrovnik meeting as an important event for the assessment of
the progress they had made in preparing themselves for NATO membership. "We
understand the desire to join NATO and the European community," Cheney said
at the Charter meeting. "It's very important -- both for NATO and the EU --
to take in new members, people who aspire to join the organisation, help
rejuvenate it, and to help us rededicate ourselves to those basic fundamental
values of freedom and democracy that are a very important part of our collective
security arrangements," added Cheney.
Sanader, and his counterparts, Sali Berisha of Albania and Vlado Buckovski of
Macedonia said they expected that their countries would receive a clear signal
from the coming NATO summit in the Latvian capital of Riga about the timetable
for their accession to the alliance. Berisha and Buckovski also expressed the
readiness of their countries to deploy their forces together with NATO and US
contingents anywhere in the world.
After the meeting, PM Sanader said that there had been no mention of the
agreement on non-extradition of US soldiers to the International Criminal Court
(ICC), i.e. its controversial Article 98, on this occasion. Sanader, however,
expressed readiness of his country "to continue talks on the matter."
Asked by reporters whether the US side asked for the deployment of Croatian
troops in Iraq, the premier answered in the negative, adding that Croatia would
continue playing an advisory role in that country.
"It is our hope that in addition to receiving a strong signal for our
future membership in the Alliance at the next NATO summit in Riga, this
November, a clear timeframe for those talks will be set," said Sanader.
On the day before the conference opened, Cheney held talks with Sanader and
Croatian President Stipe Mesic. They discussed bilateral ties, Croatia's
contribution to the global war against terrorism and reforms the country is
undertaking on its path towards NATO.
Americans are "tremendously impressed with Croatia's progress over the past
few years," Cheney said. "We are strongly supportive of Croatia
becoming a full member of the trans-Atlantic community, in terms of working with
NATO and the EU," he added.
EPP-ED Parliamentary Group's Meeting In Split
Croatia has some splendid historic cities, ideal venues for conferences.
Dubrovnik is one; another is the southern Croatian seaport of Split.
The latter deserves to be remembered for more reasons than one. But to an
observer of the British political scene it has the distinction of having given
rise to one of Dennis Healey's famous witticisms when he said at the time of the
Vance-Owen plan to bring peace to Bosnia in the 1992-95 war that for his irenic
efforts David Owen deserved to be made Lord Owen of Split.
A two-day meeting of the European People's Party and European Democratic
Christians (EPP-ED) parliamentary group began in Split on May 11th, which Prime
Minister Sanader has described as one of the most important political events in
Croatia this year.
The meeting at the Split hotel was opened by Hans-Gert Poettering, chairman of
the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament. He complimented Croatia and
underlined the big friendship between the strongest group in the European
Parliament with Croatia and his personal friendship with PM Sanader. Poettering
explained a misunderstanding surrounding his recent interview with Reuters by
stating that he said that European Union enlargement without a EU Constitution
was questionable, but that Croatia was on its road to the Union.
Complimenting the Croatian government, he said he had always believed Sanader
when he was saying that he did not know the whereabouts of war crimes fugitive
Ante Gotovina and that this was why Croatia could not arrest him. "That
proved to be correct because Gotovina was arrested in Spain and it was the
Gotovina case which prolonged Croatia's EU integration," added Poettering.
In his address, Sanader welcomed the parliamentarians from all over Europe,
saying he was proud and happy that such an event was taking place in Croatia and
in his home town of Split. Europe can create a peaceful future for all its
citizens and this is the only way, said Sanader, adding that the European
unification project was important for all citizens of the continent.
He recalled that it was the EPP which immediately after World War Two advocated
Europe's unification, and that he was certain Croatia would be a member of the
EU today, if a war had not been imposed on it in the early 1990s.
Croatia also serves as the EU's bridge to Southeast Europe and it is very
important that Croatia as well as other countries become EU members as soon as
possible, said Sanader. He added this was where the EPP became very important
because it was a great friend and one of the biggest advocates of Croatia's EU
The main part of the conference began under the title "On the Road to
Joining the EU". The EPP-ED group has 264 deputies from all 25 EU member
Croatia May not Achieve 2009 EU Entry Date
Nevertheless, a word of caution is appropriate as regards the timing of the
whole process. Croatia will not make the grade on Brussels-required reforms in
time for a 2009 EU entry, the German press has reported - a significant source
since Germany is a traditional ally of Croatia and strongly backs its EU entry.
Croatian leader Ivo Sanader and his government recognise that EU membership by
early 2009 is unrealistic. "For us, this is not about an early date, but
about the 100 percent fulfilment of all EU criteria," said foreign minister
Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.
Membership talks with Croatia are currently at the screening stage and it has
become clear that aligning Croatia's laws with EU rules could be a very slow
process indeed. "If we continue at the current speed, we will need years to
make the adjustments," Neven Mimica, chairman of the Croatian parliament's
European integration committee, was quoted as saying.
In its November progress report, the European commission regarded improved
functioning of the Croatian judiciary a "major challenge." Corruption
also continues to be "a serious problem", although the legal framework
to combat corruption is largely in place.
Some progress has been made, however, after the Croatian parliament adopted a
series of EU-conform laws in an effort to reform the justice system. But there
are still legislative proposals sent back and forth, a ping-pong between the
Croatian bureaucracy and into parliament.
"From an enterprise point of view, the speed of the necessary reforms has
not held step with overall economic development," Peter Presber, head of
the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, told Handelsblatt.
Also criticised are lengthy permission procedures, lack of transparency in
public tenders, slow progress on privatisation plans and the unclear situation
regarding tax laws.
One issue that will weigh heavily in Zagreb's accession talks is its attitude
towards minority rights, especially concerning Croatian Serbs. Of the more than
300,000 Serbs who fled during the Serbian-Croatian war of the early nineties,
only half have returned. Most are older families who earn a living farming.
Younger and middle-aged Croatian Serbs are not eager to return for fear of
unemployment and discrimination.
Generali plans acquisition of Podravska Bank
Italian insurance group Generali will become the largest single owner of
Podravska bank (POBA) from Koprivnica, the tenth largest bank in Croatia,
Croatia Today reported.
According to reports, this would be a direct deal between Generali and one of
the largest stockholders of Podravska bank, according to which the third largest
European insurance company would acquire in the first stage about 10 per cent of
POBA is majority owned by Italian capital, while the largest shareholders are
Lorenzo Gorgoni (9.34 per cent), Trieste-based company Cerere (9.30 per cent),
the owner of Cerere Djuro Predovic (8.74 per cent), the entrepreneur from Milan
Miljan Todorovic (8.18 per cent), and the family of bankers Montinari from Leche,
which currently holds more than 20 per cent in POBA. It remains unknown whether
POBA would be re-capitalised by all or only larger shareholders, but this would
probably mean a more significant ownership restructuring.
Montenegro's Hipotekarna bank from Podgorica is also mentioned as a serious
contender for an ownership stake in POBA. Hipotekarna bank was at the end of
2005 also acquired by the majority owners of Koprivnicka bank: families Gorgoni
and Montinari and company Cerere.
Zagrebacka Bank posts 2005 net income up by 7.1%
Zagrebacka bank (ZABA) Group generated pre-tax revenues of 1.25 billion crowns
last year, which is by 5.6 per cent up against 2004, while net revenues reached
1.02 billion crowns higher by 7.1 per cent, Croatia Today reported.
Total revenues amounted to 3.38 billion crowns, ZABA officials stated. Total
assets of the group reached 71.81 billion crowns (11.6 per cent up on 2004) at
the end of last year, it was reported. Approved credits totalled 38.9 billion
crowns, which represents an increase of 22.3 per cent. At the end of 2005,
client deposits reached 47.17 billion crowns, which represents an increase of
6.9 per cent.
Societe Generale buys HVB Splitska Bank
Societe Generale SA, France's third largest lender, will buy Croatia's HVB
Splitska Bank for one billion Euro to gain access to an economy that is growing
three times as fast as its home market, Croatia Today reported.
The Paris-based bank will acquire 99.8 per cent of the Croatian lender from Bank
Austria Creditanstalt AG, a unit of Italy's UniCredit SpA, Societe Generale
The transaction will be completed by the end of June, the company said.
"It's right for them to proceed with this strategy even though the prices
are higher now because of the fewer opportunities." Societe Generale, led
by Chairman Daniel Bouton, has expanded into countries such as Russia and the
Czech Republic to offset limited opportunities for growth at home.
The Croatian economy grew 4.3 per cent last year, outstripping France's 1.4 per
cent rate. The purchase "fully supports Societe Generale's strategy to
expand its retail banking network in attractive high-growth markets in
Europe," Societe Generale Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Citerne, said.
Split-based Splitska is the fifth-largest lender in Croatia, which started talks
to join the European Union in October. It hopes to join the EU by the end of the
decade. Splitska has 112 branches, 460,000 retail clients and 2,000 corporate
customers, Societe Generale said.
It acquired Splitska through its 21 billion Euro takeover of Germany's HVB Group
last year. This is the second company that Societe Generale has bought from
Milan-based UniCredit this year.
First HPB Alpha fund established
The association for investment fund management HPB Invest has established HPB
Alpha fund, an open investment fund with a private offer, which is the first of
its kind in Croatia, Croatia Today reported.
HPB Alpha fund will collect financial assets by privately offering stakes in the
fund, meaning that the offer is directed to a limited number of so-called
qualified investors. This provides investors with an opportunity to structure
their portfolios and develop investment strategies especially adjusted to their
needs and desires, with a goal of achieving above-average revenues. The founder
of this fund, HPB Invest, is operating within Hrvatska postanska bank (Croatian
Croatia to boost ties with South Korea and India
Croatia is currently beefing up ties in Asia: in international relations with
South Korea and in business relations with India. South Korea and Croatia have
agreed to strengthen diplomatic ties with plans for embassies in each other's
countries and cultural and tourism exchanges, the South Korean presidential
office said during a visit to Seoul by Croatian President Stipe Mesic, Deutsche
During the visit, aimed at drumming up Korean investment in the Balkan country,
Mesic met with his South Korean counterpart, Roh Moo Hyun for talks in which he
highlighted Croatia's modernised rail network and port facilities and the
establishment of a free trade zone.
Croatia's possible entry to the European Union would lead to bilateral trade and
investment, Roh was quoted as saying. Following their meeting both presidents
signed two agreements on reciprocal investment guarantees and abolition of
double taxation. The two countries have had diplomatic ties since 1992.
Moreover, Croatia is also making efforts to attract Indian entrepreneurs to
start businesses there. Leading these initiatives is the Croatian ambassador to
India, Dino Debeljuh, and a group of north-Indian entrepreneurs. Debeljuh headed
the first Indian tourist delegation to Croatia.
The 15-member team, comprising industrialists, doctors, real estate developers
and tourists, is the first organised delegation from India to visit Croatia.
Presently, of the nine million tourists visiting Croatia annually, only about
500 are from India, said Debeljuh. "This year an estimated 2.2 million
Indian tourists would go abroad. We hope many of them will visit Croatia,"
he said during a press conference. "We will launch a publicity campaign to
attract Indian tourists. After Chandigarh, our campaign would start in Delhi,
Mumbai and Chennai," he continued. Naveen Sharma, trustee of the
Delhi-based Millionaires Trust and author of the first e-book on Croatia, is one
of the three Indian entrepreneurs who have set up businesses in Croatia
recently. While Sharma has set up an Indian resort and restaurant, Dr K R Arya,
chairman of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), has set up a hospital. K
K Dheer, another entrepreneur, has started a school. Sharma said Croatia has
relaxed its visa norms and made them people-friendly recently. "We are also
holding dialogues with Bollywood producers and directors to get them to shoot
their films in Croatia with all the best of European scenic beauty intact and at
much less cost," Debeljuh said. He added that Croatia is also keen to
increase bilateral trade with India, which now stands at US$43 million.
Industrial production down 6.8% in Jan-Feb 2006
For the first two months of 2006 compared to the same period last year
industrial production efficiency increased 6.8 per cent, while the number of
employees in the Croatian industrial sector recorded an annual decrease in
February 2006 as compared to December 2005, according to the initial results
published by the Croatian Statistics Bureau (DSZ), Croatia Today reported
The total number of employees in the industrial sector decreased this February
1.1 per cent compared to the same month last year. While compared to December,
the total decreased 0.4 per cent.
Reduction in the number of employees in the industrial sector this February,
compared to the same month last year, was recorded in mining and extraction by
two per cent and in the processing industry 1.2 per cent. In electricity, gas
and water supply sectors, the number of employees increased 0.2 per cent.
At the same time, a significant annual increase of 41.5 per cent was recorded in
the production of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers.
Significant growth was also recorded in the production of radio, TV devices,
equipment (10.6 per cent), metal products - aside from machines and equipment -
(5.1 per cent) and of other non-ferrous mineral products (3.4 per cent).
T-Com selects ECtel for project implementation
Integrated revenue management solutions provider ECtel announced that it has
received a first time order from T-Com Croatia, Croatia's national telecom
operator, for the implementation of its Fraud View fraud prevention and revenue
assurance solution, Croatia Today reported.
This order follows previous business within the T-Com group. "We are very
pleased that another leading member of the T-Com group has chosen ECtel as its
partner in the combat against fraud and revenue leakage, and we will continue
our efforts to further penetrate the group," ECtel President and CEO Eitan
Naor was reported as saying. "We are looking forward to having a long-term
partnership, and are confident that Fraud View will provide excellent protection
against revenue leakage concerns which T-Com is facing, and deliver a fast
return on investment."
TA against T-HT's acquisition of Iskon
The Croatian Telecommunications Agency (TA) has been clear in its attempts to
prevent T-HT's acquisition of Iskon. "We will spare no efforts and means
trying to prevent T-HT's planned acquisition of Iskon, as such an acquisition
would send completely the wrong message to the Croatian Telecommunications
market that anything is allowed and that if you have enough money, you can buy
whatever you like and destroy the market competition. This would, in the end, be
a direct loss for end-users, as they would be deceived, while power distribution
on the market would be heavily misbalanced," warned TA Council president,
Gasper Gacina, referring to the acquisition announced by T-HT, Croatian Today
By acquiring Iskon, T-HT will strengthen its position in the sphere of business
users, where Iskon occupies the leading market position, it was reported. In the
segment of private users, Iskon also acquired a large number of clients - more
than 140,000 and about 12,000 DSL subscribers - which is why T-HT would remove
the strongest competitor in this sphere after the merger.
Operators Vodatel or Globalnet and new fixed phone network operators H1 and
Optima Telekom, aiming to strengthen their position in the sphere of integrated
services, such as in phone networks, internet and television, will definitely
face major difficulties in the future.
They would be competing against T-HT and Iskon, which would be, according to the
announcements from both companies, keeping its own brand. This in turn would
represent an extremely difficult, almost impossible task.