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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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: 131 - (28/04/08)

The crunch cometh for Croatia
These are tense times for Croatia. It has many a reason for anxiety. 

There is the fragile world economy, with which Croatia is increasingly interdependent. Will the German tourists be coming in such numbers to its Adriatic coast this year?

The Serbs, always the Croats' number one geopolitical concern, are in turmoil, ahead of new elections to parliament on May 11. The declaration of independence by Kosovo in February has put a question mark over the fate of Serbia and the Balkans as a whole. Are they about to descend into another round of fratricidal wars?

Then there is the urgent matter of EU membership, which the Croats feel that they eminently deserve. They are right.

They have decisively put behind them the bellicose policies of Franjo Tudjman, who died so appropriately in December 1999, concluding a decade of Balkan wars for which the prehensile president of Croatia, along with Milosevic, was responsible. The Croats are now determined to make the most of their own country, which is indeed a fabulous place, replete with spectacular natural scenery, marvellous architecture and historic monuments and a long history of being at the heart of things, as a long ago as in Roman times. 

Croatia 'on course' for EU membership 
The case for Croatian membership of the EU is clear. Following an accession conference in Brussels on 21 April, the Slovenian EU Presidency announced the opening of talks between the EU and Croatia on the energy and transport sectors. This brings the number of chapters opened to 18 out of the 35 which must be completed before a country can join the EU. 

Two chapters - science and research and education and culture - have already been provisionally closed. Commission representatives said they were confident that four more chapters (which ones is not yet clear) could be opened in June and all the remaining chapters by the end of this year. 

"This is a good and strong statement which additionally encourages us and which can be viewed as a stronghold for optimism in the months to come," said Croatia's chief negotiator with the EU Vladimir Drobnjak after the conference. 

The EU highlighted a number of issues the Balkan country will have to address in the energy and transport sector before the chapters can be successfully closed. 

On transport, these include the ratification of the European Common Aviation Area Agreement and the establishment of a "competent and effective" railway regulatory body. In the energy field, the EU's main demands refer to raising the use of renewable energy sources and bringing its coal-mining regulations in line with EU standards. 

In a 21 April interview with German daily Die Welt, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn reiterated the EU's objective of finalising negotiations with Croatia by the end of 2009, which would allow the country to join the Union in 2011. 

France, which will take over the Presidency in July, has already said that it wants to maintain the momentum of the accession talks.

Grand energy project 
One mighty source of anxiety as the price of oil approaches $120 per barrel is of course energy. A most arresting development here is in the offing, pregnant with new possibilities for Europe's energy supply. 

Romania, Serbia and Croatia signed an agreement on April 22 to build a pan-European oil pipeline; but Slovenia and Italy have yet to confirm their participation in the project. The agreement calls for the creation of a company to develop the 3.5 billion euro ($5.6 billion) pipeline between the Romanian port of Constanta and Trieste in Italy.

The new company, made up of Romania's Conpet and Oil Terminal, Serbia's Transnafta and Croatia's Janaf, will be officially registered in London, where it will be based, within 45 days, a spokesman said. 

The project, which has the European Union's backing, calls for the construction of a 1,300 kilometre pipeline to bring oil from the Black Sea to Central Europe in a bid to reduce dependence on Russian oil and pipelines, although it is interesting to note that Gazprom recently bought the Serbian company in the consortium, Transnafta.

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