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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)

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Update No: 130 - (26/03/08)

Key obstacle to EU membership still there - ZERP
Croatia's Prime Minister says his country may be forced to give up its bid for European Union membership, if no deal on its controversial protected fishing zone is found. Zagreb says the protected zone off its Adriatic coast, known as ZERP (Protected Ecological Fishery Zone), is intended to preserve fishing stocks and reduce pollution.

But Italy and Slovenia say the area has to be shared between the three countries and have accused Croatia of breaking European Union regulations. 

Although not a EU member, Croatia has candidate status for membership, and had originally agreed to abide to EU rules in regulating fish stocks in the upper Adriatic.

The dispute has seen Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, using its clout to block Croatia's efforts to join the 27-member bloc. "They ignore the facts that Italy and Slovenia have already declared their own zones after agreeing to the June 2004 Protocol, and that Croatia for nearly four years did not apply ZERP on EU member states," Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told Croatian Radio's regular monthly feature "How the Government Governs."

"If we are going to be blackmailed with the implementation of the ZERP, then it becomes very serious and I will lean towards President (Stipe) Mesic's prediction that it will become a question of choosing between the EU and ZERP," Sanader concluded.

He refused to reveal any details on a possible solution to the deadlock, saying he has been waiting more than two months for talks with Italy, Slovenia and the European Commission, although according to him they seem to be avoiding the dispute.

Riots in Belgrade
Sanader, also commented on the recent riots in the Serbian capital which left the city's Croatian Embassy damaged. The riots erupted during a huge protest by Serbs against Kosovo's declaration of independence, and its recognition by some Western countries.

The Croatian premier said he hoped the worst was over, suggesting "we want all our neighbours to do well, and with that in mind we wish the same for Serbia." 
Croatian President Mesic has a different view

ENTER 'THE HAGUE'
After visiting the Brodarski Institute, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic stated that the tension that has arisen over the ZERP problem is exaggerated.

The major issue is the problem with sea borders, and Slovenia also wants to solve the issue over the land borders said Mesic, adding that after proposals forwarded by Croatia and Slovenia, now it is the turn of the The Hague Tribunal. Mesic then said that Croatia will accept any decision made by The Hague.

"We expect that, if Slovenia accepts the solution over the borders, then the ZERP issue will be next in line," said the president. He stressed that Croatia, despite scepticism, can do everything that is needed to join the EU in 2009.

NAVAL VESSELS
The Ministry of Defence has been commissioned to the Brodarski Institute to carry out a study for design solutions of patrol boats and multi-purpose vessels for the coast guard for the monitoring of the ZERP.

Minister of defence Branko Vukelic said that the state leaders stated that Croatia will have a naval fleet, and air defence and that they will build ships for the war fleet and the coast guard.

"The state leaders and the parliament requested the construction of ships, not NATO. By the end of the study we will know what kind of boats will be built in Croatian shipyards," said Vukelic.

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