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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: 151 - (16/12/09)

Whither Croatia?
Croatia was once the favoured republic in Yugoslavia. The only rival for that role would have been Slovenia.

President Tito, the wartime hero and architect of post-war Yugoslavia, was half Croat, half Slovene. He was lenient in his treatment of the two republics of his origin and allowed them to cultivate market economies, after a socialist fashion, and allowed them to invite foreign investment.

Croat-Slovene relations remain vital for Croatia to this day. Slovenia has preceded it into the EU. It will largely decide when it goes in and on what terms.

Parliament ratifies Slovenia border deal
Hence the immense importance of a breakthrough in the autumn. The Croatian parliament ratified in November a deal with Slovenia for international arbitration to resolve a border row between the two countries that blocked Zagreb's bid to join the European Union previously. It involves Slovenia acquiring access to the Adriatic.

"Today we are concluding a major and important task, I believe that history will prove it," Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor told the lawmakers before the vote. The border dispute will be resolved according to international law ... before an international judicial body. If we do not back this agreement no future generation of politicians will be able to negotiate something better and more favourable for Croatia," she stressed.

A total of 129 deputies of those present in the 153-seat assembly backed the agreement. Six voted against it.

The deal was signed by Kosor and her Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor in Sweden, holder of the EU rotating presidency in the last half of 2009. The Slovenian government plans to hold an advisory referendum on the agreement before sending it for ratification by parliament, which is expected to take place within the next few months.

The agreement will create an arbitration tribunal tasked with finding a solution to the dispute over a small piece of land and sea. The row has been going on since 1991 when both countries proclaimed independence from the then Yugoslavia. The tribunal's ruling will be binding on both countries.

Most opposition deputies backed the deal after Kosor assured them that criteria to appoint the tribunal's members would be based on "professionalism, impartiality and independence. Consultations (over nomination of arbitrators) will be led with both Croatia and Slovenia in a transparent way," she emphasized.

Ljubljana hopes the deal will secure it access to international shipping waters. On the other hand, Slovenia, an EU member since 2004, must refrain from blocking Croatia's accession talks to join the bloc and has agreed that arbitration will only begin after Zagreb successfully concludes them.

Croatia resumed its EU membership talks in October after Slovenia ended a 10-month block of the negotiations because of the border dispute. Croatia is hoping to become EU's 28th member by 2011.

The populace approves
Croats have grown happier with the government since the end of the summer, new research has shown.

Figures released on December 1 from the "Puls" research agency showed 49 per cent of Croats did not approve of the government and its work in October and November – an improvement on the 69 per cent figure in August and September.

The research also showed backing for Prime Minister Kosor rose with 48 per cent supporting her in November compared to just 39 per cent in July.

And 74 per cent wanted a referendum on Croatia's accession to the European Union. Of those, 16 per cent said they would vote against joining the EU.

South Stream ahoy!
Kosor is forging ahead with new links to the outside world, eastwards as well as westwards – and perhaps even southwards. Croatia has intensified talks with Russia to join the South Stream gas pipeline project, a new transport link for Russian gas to Europe, the economy ministry said on November 30.

“Croatia is interested to join the South Stream pipeline and is now holding intensive talks with the Russian side. At the moment, the talks are in a stage where we cannot provide any detailed information,” the ministry said in a statement.

Gazprom and the Italian energy group Eni are key partners in the project to build a gas pipeline under the Black Sea to supply gas to southern Europe. The project is seen as strategically important by European countries keen to ensure safety of gas supplies by bypassing Ukraine, which has had rough relations with Russia.

Russia has already signed an agreement on the South Stream pipeline with five countries — Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece and Slovenia. The pipeline from Russia to Italy will skirt Ukraine.

The row between Moscow and Kiev at the start of 2009 disrupted gas supplies to a number of European countries, including Croatia. France’s power group EDF agreed with Russia to take a stake in the project, thus joining the push to build the new pipeline.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor tentatively expects to visit Russia in the next two months. Her talks are likely to focus primarily on improving economic ties, in particular in the energy field.

The European Union candidate country consumes some 3.2 billion cubic meters of gas annually and covers some 60 percent from its own resources. The remaining 40 percent is imported from Russia.

Zagreb is also planning to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the northern Adriatic to extend its sources of gas supply to northern Africa.


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