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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: 153 - (25/02/10)

New president; new perspectives
Croatia's politics, rather sedate in comparison with other Yugoslav successor states, have been in a state of flux over the past month or two. The presidential election in January ended up being a contest between the Social-Democrat Ivo Josipovic and his former party colleague, Zagreb mayor Milan Bandic.

Josipovic, a jurist, composer and university professor, was a sharp contrast to the brash, boisterous Bandic, whose numerous gaffes were amply documented on YouTube and in the press. The runoff election on January 10 was a landslide for Josipovic, with over 60% of the total vote.

Ivo Sanader, former PM and ex-leader of the HDZ party, unexpectedly came out of his self-imposed retirement a week before the run-off to endorse Bandic ó and was promptly expelled from the party.

Mesic's Parthian shot
Serbian-Croat relations have been frostier than usual for several months, especially following Zagrebís vital support for the Albanian regime in Kosovo during the debate at the International Court of Justice. Outgoing President Stipe Mesicís comments at the time, however, positively iced them over.

Accusing the Bosnian Serb PM Milorad Dodik of pursuing a "dream of Greater Serbia" and seeking to partition Bosnia, Mesic told reporters in an informal conversation that he would have sent troops to "break the [Serb Republic] in half" in case of a Serb referendum on secession. Dodik and the government in Banja Luka have indeed been talking about a referendum, but as a way to strengthen the Dayton peace agreement, not break it.

Mesicís comments were particularly inflammatory considering that the Bosnian Serbs were, in fact, blockaded in precisely the same fashion by Croat forces in the summer of 1992, causing much suffering. This lifeline between the Serb Republicís two halves has been a sore point ever since the international arbitrators established a neutral Brcko District in 2000. Despite protests from Bosnia and Serbia, Mesic remained unapologetic.

Tadicís Gambit
Serbian President Boris Tadic, normally all too willing to put up with abuse from Zagreb, had little choice but allow official criticism of Mesicís statement, and snub Josipovicís inauguration. Though organized political opposition to his rule is feeble to nonexistent, his approval ratings are low. His surprise proposal to adopt a parliamentary resolution condemning the "genocide" in Srebrenica looks likely to further deplete Tadicís political capital.

It is unclear why Tadic, usually obsessed with his public image, would embark on an adventure that would score him no political points. His explanation that "policies of recognizing the suffering of others and respecting the victims of others can gain credibility on the international scene" (B92) rings hollow.

For almost a decade, Serbia has wallowed in self-abasement and issued apologies for the suffering actually or allegedly caused by Serbs. It did nothing to lessen the demonization of Serbs, both in the West and in the immediate neighbourhood, nor did anyone else issue similar apologies for the suffering of Serbs. In fact, everyone has taken Serb grovelling as vindication of their own policies, from Croatiaís Mesic and the Muslims of Bosnia, to Washington, Brussels, and the KLA in Kosovo.

Serbian media have quoted several European officials ó notably Jelko Kacin and Doris Pack ó who not only strongly endorsed the Srebrenica resolution, but also dismissed the demands of several Serbian parties to include the condemnation of crimes against the Serbs, whether in the same resolution or separately. Could it be that the resolution is being pushed not because of Tadicís sense of morality, but to please the EU and NATO?

By the time Tadic announced his Srebrenica initiative, Serbia was already embroiled in a debate on NATO. Alliance membership isnít officially on the table, and a binding parliamentary resolution from 2007 demands Serbiaís neutrality, but Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac (a senior official of Tadicís party) has recently argued that joining NATO would be part of a "natural process" for Serbia and bring political and economic benefits. In response, a group of 200 public personalities put forth a petition that NATO membership had to be approved by a referendum. This prompted a hysterical campaign by NATO proponents in the mainstream media ó largely beholden to the government ó denouncing the referendum supporters as "retrograde" forces seeking to overthrow democracy (!).

The only reason Tadic is capable of surviving this turmoil is the impression his spin doctors have carefully nurtured in public that his regime is the only game in town, and that a policy of submission to the EU "has no alternative."

When Tadic was re-elected president, in January 2008 ó an event that most likely triggered the Albaniansí declaration of dependence in Kosovo ó he campaigned on a platform "Both Kosovo and Europe." This was meant to disarm his critics, who argued that giving up the occupied province would be the price of EU entry. Though events have since proved those critics right, Tadic has continued the charade for domestic political consumption.

Most EU members have recognized the occupied province as an independent state. The UN mission that helped create a provisional Albanian government has since been largely replaced by an EU "law and order" mission, whose understanding of law and order has mostly involved setting convicted killers free.

Now, however, the EU mission, NATO and the Albanian regime have set their sights on eliminating the Serb enclave in the north of the province that continues to reject their authority. Hashim Thaci, leader of the terrorist KLA and now "Prime Minister of Kosovo," recently announced a strategy to "strengthen the sovereignty" of his government in the north, with the full support of the EU mission and NATO "peacekeepers."

In fact, NATO commander in charge of the region, Adm. Fitzgerald (USN), called the Serb authorities in the north a "cause for concern," since they were not approved by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244! Neither was the "Republic of Kosovo," but that doesnít seem to have stopped NATO or the EU, now has it? In fact, NATO and the UN mission have systematically violated 1244 since it came into effect. But do they care what it says? It appears, however, that this irony was completely lost on Adm. Fitzgerald.

Triumph of Hypocrisy
Once described as a compliment vice pays to virtue, hypocrisy has itself become a virtue in the world "order" created by the post-Cold War imperial America, starting with the Balkans but reaching all over the globe since. Judging by the tone set by the first three weeks of 2010, "truth" and "reality" are likely to remain largely imaginary concepts in the region, at least for the local political leaderships and their foreign overlords. How long that state of affairs can actually last without self-destructing is anybodyís guess.  

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