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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: 155 - (25/04/10)

It takes time for people to make up after a terrible fall-out. It is perhaps at last happening in the Balkans.

Perhaps peace at last
Almost 15 years after the wars in former Yugoslavia, the Serbian and Croatian presidents are leading a new push toward reconciliation in the conflict-scarred Balkans.

In an unprecedented move, Serbian President Boris Tadic launched an initiative that on March 31 resulted in Serbian parliament’s declaration condemning the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces.

Two weeks later Croatian President Ivo Josipovic made an equally unprecedented move, expressing before the Bosnian parliament his “regrets” for the role his country had played in the 1992 to 1995 war in Bosnia. Next day Josipovic visited the central Bosnian village of Ahmici, a symbolic site where Bosnian Croat forces killed 116 Muslim civilians in April 1993.

In terms of population and the strength of their economies, Serbia and Croatia are the regional heavyweights to have emerged out of the former Yugoslavia.

Both countries also harbour ambitions of joining the EU, which would be difficult without putting their past conflicts behind them.

The fact that their leaders are making efforts to overcome the legacy of past conflicts can only be beneficial for the entire region, said Ivan Vejvoda of the non-governmental Balkan Trust for Democracy.

In a sign of the apparent understanding emerging between the two presidents, they have met three times in less than a month. In addition, Josipovic on April 16 reiterated his wish to solve in “other ways” — out of the court in other words — the issue of reciprocal genocide complaints filed by Serbia and Croatia to the International Court of Justice.

Tadic recommended the same thing late last month.

He expressed a hope on April 16 that Serbia and Croatia could demonstrate a “real maturity” to address “problems of the past in a different rather than in a traditional way.” He also advocated “joint government meetings,” something unthinkable until now.

The complaints of genocide allegedly committed during Croatia’s 1991 to 1995 independence war are a key obstacle to a genuine breakthrough in bilateral relations.

Zagreb denounces the role of Serbs, who were then led by Slobodan Milosevic. Belgrade accuses Croats for the massive violence against Serbs in Croatia.

A refusal to accept that one’s own side committed atrocities has been common throughout the Balkans for a long time, and a major obstacle to reconciliation efforts. “One of the Balkans’ ills is that people are only prepared to talk about victims in their own nations and not those in other nations,” Tadic said in an interview to a Bosnian television in January. “Until now, the leaders ... have paid tribute only to victims belonging to their own nation, condemning only the crimes of other” nations, wrote analyst Jelena Lovric in the Croatian daily Jutarnji List.

The final reconciliation still to come
The fact remains that the process of reconciliation, fostered by the EU to which all western Balkan countries hope to join, will still be very long, for both psychological and political resistance is strong.

The reactions to the Serbian parliament’s declaration on Srebrenica and to Josipovic’s gestures in Bosnia are revealing. Bosnian Muslims deplored that the word genocide was not included in the declaration, while Bosnian Serbs felt that it ignored crimes committed against them.

And Josipovic’s initiatives in Bosnia raised a political storm in Croatia, angering Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, who criticized him for not consulting her over the moves.

Slovenia ratifies Croatia border deal, referendum to follow
The Slovenian parliament ratified on April 11 a border arbitration deal with Croatia vital for Zagreb's EU membership bid, but the deal still faces a much tougher test at a June referendum in Slovenia.

Opposition parties boycotted the vote, claiming the deal was bad for Slovenia, which is an EU and euro zone member.

Under the agreement, signed in November, an international arbitration team will settle a dispute over land and sea territory dating from the 1991 break-up of Yugoslavia and its ruling will be binding for both countries.   

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