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CROATIA





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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 28,322 22,421 20,300 61
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 5,350 4,640 4,550 70
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Croatia



Update No: 115 - (21/12/06)

The Croatian dilemma
Croatia is a great place, favoured by the gods. It has wonderful scenery inland and a marvellous coastline on the Adriatic, a climate tempered by sea breezes and a great historical heritage that goes back to Roman times, when it was the centre of the empire, contributing several of its local citizenry to becoming emperors of the greatest empire Europe has experienced, Diocletian and Constantine to the fore here. 
It went through appalling wars to attain its independence in the 1990s and is now a fully independent state - independent not just of external oppressors, the Serbs, but of a ghastly relic of oppression in Franco Tudjman, the sinister resilient president after independence in 1991.
Are they to become Western or remain a Balkan backwater? 
If they go along with the European Union (EU) they will have to accept its tutelage in all but name. But is there an alternative?

The EU spat
The Croatian government on December 14th passed a bill introducing an "environmental zone" restricting fishing along its Adriatic coast, despite warnings from the EU. 
With the new law, Croatia wants to expand its fishing regulations - including seasons, the size of boat and type of catch - to the 40- nautical-mile (72-kilometre) Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) stretching beyond the 12-mile belt of its territorial waters. Once passed, it would immediately affect non-EU fishermen, including a sizeable tuna- catching fleet from Japan and other countries around the world. 
The law would start applying to EU countries "no later" than January 1, 2008, but possibly already in the second half of 2007. 
Prime Minister Ivo Sanader's coalition has the majority to pass the law, but he has failed to secure a wide consensus, as the opposition stuck to the demand for an immediate and comprehensive activation of the ZERP. 
Zagreb has gone ahead with the ZERP plan despite protests from EU member states and neighbours Italy and Slovenia, which could block Croatia's progress toward EU membership. 
The EU's top diplomat, Jose Manuel Barroso, warned Croatian President Stipe Mesic recnelty that "Brussels will not tolerate unilateral decisions on ZERP." 
A membership candidate since 2004, Croatia hopes to join the EU in 2009. It passed a law on the ZERP already in 2003, but suspended it amid the controversy with EU.

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Croatian parliament adopts country's largest budget ever
Croatia has adopted a 15 billion-euro budget for 2007, juggling social needs and national strategic priorities.
On December 1st, Croatia adopted its budget for 2007, with parliament endorsing all government-sponsored amendments. Social needs are a priority area, along with education, science and infrastructure. 
In all, 3m euros have been earmarked for facilitating use of public roads by the disabled. The new budget also includes provisions benefiting homeland defenders, people with special needs, children and youth, and retirees. 
Investments have been boosted in education and science, including funds for the construction of student centres and for providing free textbooks. State administration salaries will increase by up to 5%, and retirement salaries by up to 6%. Funds also have been increased for the Council for National Minorities. 
Along with Croatia's economic development has come an increase in tax revenues, enabling regional administrations greater capacity for self-government and facilitating decentralisation, analysts say. Decentralisation of economic and political power has been an ongoing issue since the mid-1990s. 
The new budget should help balance out the development of Croatia's regions, allowing greater planning and implementation at the local level, according to the government. 
Prime Minister Ivo Sanader says his administration remains committed to developing Croatia's highways and roads, helping spur growth across the country. The budget also provides for continued investment in gasification technology. 
While the main focus of the new budget is on citizen's needs, the government also endeavours to show progress in achieving national strategic goals -- particularly membership in the EU and NATO. Modernisation of the state administration and judicial systems, the fight against organised crime, and the establishment of acceptable work environment conditions are all receiving funding. 
  

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