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CROATIA





In-depth Business Intelligence 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
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

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
56,542

Population
4,496,869

Capital 
Zagreb

Currency 
Kuna

President 
Stipe Mesic

Private sector
% of GDP 
55%


Update No: 095- (31/03/05)

Croatia in the doghouse
The EU has shown its displeasure at the failure of Croatia to hand over war-crime suspect General Ante Gotovina by suspending entry talks. Reacting to the EU foreign ministers' 16th March decision to put off accession talks with Zagreb, Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said that while "of course [he] can't be glad", he was satisfied with the EU's adoption of a negotiating framework for his country. 
In Sanader's view, the foreign ministers did not conclude that "Croatia has not done its utmost [to capture war crimes suspect General Gotovina], but there was no consensus on the matter". Sanader said that seven countries voted in support of Croatia, four or five were against, and the rest remained neutral. Sanader also said that Zagreb will not intensify its efforts to resolve the Gotovina issue, "because we are already fully co-operating with the Hague tribunal."
President Stipe Mesic commented that the Croats "should not be desperate, we should meet the requirements".
The leaders of the country's parliamentary parties agreed that Zagreb should continue with its preparations for EU entry. "If Brussels is mistaken about Croatia, Croatia has no reason to be mistaken about itself," declared Ivica Racan, the head of the strongest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Into NATO perhaps
The EU is not the only place for a fledgling New European country to be. There is also NATO.
Croatia and Macedonia expect an invitation to join NATO together with Albania in late 2006 which should pave the way for other Balkan countries to follow, their prime ministers said on March 29th. "I expect that toward the end of 2006 we should get an invitation for full-fledged NATO membership," Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told reporters after meeting his Macedonian counterpart Vlado Buckovski. 
Although NATO officials say there needs to be more cooperation from Croatia on finding war criminals, the two former Yugoslav republics have made NATO and European Union entry their strategic goal. Together with Balkan neighbor Albania they formed "the Adriatic Charter" to boost their chances of joining. 
They missed NATO's largest eastward expansion in 2004 when seven other former communist countries were admitted, boosting the number of members to 26. 
"Regional cooperation is very important and we rightly expect the invitation in late 2006. That will make things easier for NATO's southern flank and for other countries in the region to eventually join," said Buckovski. 
A NATO spokesman in Brussels said the key to Croatia's membership chances would be cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague. "Full cooperation, in particular on the Gotovina case, would seem to be politically important before an invitation can be issued," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said of the fugitive General Ante Gotovina, indicted in 2001 for crimes against humanity during a 1995 offensive against Croatian Serbs. 
Croatia insists it has done all it can to find Gotovina but U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte accuses it of not having tried seriously to arrest him. 
Alliance sources said Macedonia's case for membership was not helped by reports of irregularities in recent local polls, where monitors cited stolen ballot papers and intimidation. 
The former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia and Serbia and Montenegro have yet to join NATO's Partnership for Peace, the first stage toward possible entry into the alliance. 

The backdrop of Mesic
Mesic won a crushing victory over his ruling conservative party rival in an election runoff on January 16th, securing a second five-year term and promising to lead the former Yugoslav republic into the European Union. Official results gave Mesic 66 percent of the vote compared to 34 percent for Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). Ms Kosor is a close ally of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who conceded defeat even before official results were out.
Mesic will oversee the country's EU entry, planned for 2009. His foreign policy adviser Ivica Mastruko said that his victory would be greeted as good news in European capitals. "Mesic guarantees continuity, in terms of relations with Balkan neighbours, with the European Union and with the United Nations war crimes tribunal," he said.
EU leaders have said that they would open accession talks with Croatia in March, but they warned that progress hinged on the transfer of war crimes indictee, Ante Gotovina, to the UN tribunal at The Hague. Sanader insists that Gotovina, a former general who remains a hero to many Croats, is no longer in the country, and Mesic said during the election campaign that Zagreb merely had to prove to Brussels that it was "doing everything" to find him. 
Mesic, who had the backing of the three main opposition parties, also reminded voters of the autocratic rule of Franjo Tudjman, who died in 1999, and warned against giving too much power to one party. While Kosor is a relative newcomer to Croatian politics, Mesic was able to campaign on his first-term record of democratic reform and improved international relations following the isolation of his hardline nationalist predecessor, HDZ founder, Tudjman. 

The liberal corrective
Western diplomats see Mesic as a useful counterweight to the centre-right HDZ, which controls the cabinet and parliament, and praise him for his courage in denouncing war crimes committed by Croats during conflicts that tore apart socialist Yugoslavia. "In many respects, Mesic has been the moral correction in this country," a senior EU diplomat in Zagreb said. "If Kosor had won, there would have been a change of atmosphere. It would be more limiting with the same party having presidency and cabinet."
Mesic, 70, has pledged to lead the Balkan country of some 4.4 million people into the EU before the end of the decade, a major prize for a country that was ravaged by a brutal inter-ethnic war only 10 years ago after it split from the Yugoslav federation. "We have travelled a long way and Croatia's democracy has been confirmed. The world can see that and that's why we're standing at the doorsteps of Europe," said Mesic.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Zagreb, Amman boost relations


Croatia and Jordan signed five agreements and memoranda of understanding on February 20th to forge closer cooperation between the two countries, the Jordan Times reported.
The accords were concluded following talks between Jordanian officials led by Prime Minister, Faisal Fayez, and a Croatian delegation led by Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader. The agreements cover the prevention of dual taxation and cooperation between the Jordan Loan guarantee Corporation and the Croatian Reconstruction Bank. The memoranda comprise the creation of a joint cooperation council between the ministries of industry and trade in the two countries and an understanding between the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and Croatia's seaports.

Croatian, Afghan presidents discuss NATO mission, economic ties

Afghanistan is very satisfied with Croatia's participation in the NATO-led peace mission and expects Croatia to expand its contribution to peace restoration in Afghanistan to other areas as well, President Hamid Karzai said after talks with his Croatian counterpart, Stjepan Mesic, in Madrid on March 11th, HINA News Agency reported.
"We are very happy because of the engagement of the Croatian Army, which shared an experience similar to Afghanistan's, the experience of war," said Karzai, adding that Croatian peace troops "know the psychology of the victims of war" and that this enabled them to do a good job.
Karzai invited the Croatian president to visit Afghanistan, which Mesic accepted.
Mesic said their talks also focused on economic cooperation because of the potential in Afghanistan.
He said Karzai mentioned Afghanistan's need for the building of roads and other infrastructure. He added Croatian companies had experience in that and should participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The two presidents agreed Croatia should once again take part in the building of power plants in Afghanistan. Mesic invited Karzai to visit Croatia at the helm of an economic delegation. Mesic is in Madrid attending an international conference on terrorism.

Croatian economy minister, Iranian transport minister discuss cooperation

Cooperation between Croatia and Iran is excellent and it needs to be continued and the two countries need to be informed of possibilities for economic cooperation, Croatian Economic Minister, Branko Vukelic, and Iranian Roads and Transport Minister, Mohammad Rahmati, said in Zagreb recently, the Croatian Economy Ministry reported.
The Iranian officials were accompanying the Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, on his trip to Croatia.
Vukelic informed Rahmati of activities of the Croatian Economy Ministry and presented to him the economic priorities of the Croatian government, the statement said. He said Croatia created a most favourable atmosphere for foreign investments and business partners who want to invest in Croatia.
Minister Rahmati presented details of Iran's economy and stressed the need for the improvement of the two countries' economic cooperation.

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RETAIL

Lidl chain to open shops in Croatia

Germany's Lidl supermarket chain is to open shops in 17 Croatian towns this November, the daily Jutarnji list reported on January 24th, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. 
Lidl is expected to invest around 440m Euro (US$52m) in the first wave of expansion into the Croatian market. Stores will be located in towns mostly in central and eastern Croatia and also in towns on the Adriatic coast. Economic analysts estimate that Lidl, owing to its low prices, may soon take a large share of the market in Croatia and may jeopardise Konzum, currently the biggest such chain in the country.

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