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
The EU's top diplomat, Jose Manuel Barroso, warned Croatian President Stipe
Mesic recnelty that "Brussels will not tolerate unilateral decisions on
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
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
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