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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: 160 - (26/09/10)

The peace dividend pays off
Past foes in the 1991 war that broke up the former Yugoslavia, Croatia and Serbia, in June signed an agreement to cooperate on fighting organized crime.

This is already paying off handsomely. Croatia on August 25 extradited a man convicted for the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindic to authorities in Belgrade, said Krunoslav Borovec, spokesman for Croatian police.

Sretko Kalinic, operating under the nickname “Beast,” was tried in Belgrade in 2007 in absentia for the 2003 assassination of then-Premier Djindjic. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in the assassination and other crimes.

Kalinic, a Serb citizen, had been on the run until June this year, when he was shot and wounded in Zagreb by another Serb. Both men had been at large since the reformist Mr Djindjic was killed by a sniper linked to former paramilitaries.

A court in Zagreb on August 24 sentenced him to one and a half years in prison for fraudulently obtaining two Croatian passports.

The Virgin Mary recidivus
Twenty nine years ago, in the week after 24 June 1981, six village children started to see the Virgin Mary. Three of them still go into a kind of trance, simultaneously, at 5.40 every evening, and after seven or eight minutes emerge with a message from her: "She speaks purest Croatian", explained one enthusiast on Crossing Continents, an important point since when I was growing up the language did not exist at all: rather, it was known as Serbo-Croat, and the two girls who looked after us children, one Serbian and one Croat, understood each other perfectly well, as we understood them. Nowadays, both Serbs and Croats are convinced they speak entirely different languages and children who have grown up in Serbia and Croatia seem genuinely unable to understand one another.

Medjugorje was a Franciscan parish, and the Franciscans are deeply implicated in Croatian nationalism, and correspondingly suspect to the authorities in Rome. The official church refuses to recognise that apparitions, and the most sceptical voice in the ‘Crossing Continents’ programme came from a former bishop of Sarajevo. But nothing whatever can dent the faith of the pilgrims.

In many ways, Medjugorje is similar to the other Marian shrines around the Mediterranean, such as Fatima, Lourdes, and the lesser-known Garabandal. None of the others has the same association with blood soaked nationalism. All of them can inspire real devotion and charity. I don't doubt the sincerity of the people who believe they find peace there, and that they can spread it. Given the enormous amount of money and prestige which has accrued to the village as a result of the vision, it is remarkable how unpretentious the six visionaries have remained.

But that is, in a way, the really frightening thing about the whole story. The pilgrims and believers seem to suffer from a kind of migraine there, which blocks out half the world in a bright interior light, so that they see the Virgin's presence in their hearts, and don't see her picture pasted on the soldiers' gun butts or hear the ranting of the politicians.

Nor is there any salvation to be found in atheism, for students of Yugoslav history. Eric Hobsbawm, the Marxist historian, remembered how Tito tidied the Yugoslav nationalities problem in 1945. Of the half million ethnic Germans who had lived for centuries around the Serbian-Hungarian border, he killed half and had the rest expelled.

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