Books on Croatia
Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)
Opening up the EU to the Western Balkans
Croatia is very keen indeed to join the European Union (EU). It fervently hopes
that it will not be left behind, now that Bulgaria and Romania are members. The
Croatians want to re-assert their European identity, compromised by the
turbulent twentieth century, in which it was recurrently engulfed in ghastly
wars, which never did it, or its neighbours, any good.
Any reforming government knows that it is an immense advantage to hold out the
vista of joining the great European home, if one wants to get a controversial
measure across. 'Either we do this; or we are not proper Europeans.' That is the
motto of reformers across the countries in transition.
The Greek Olympic flame of freedom
To achieve their goal, the Croatian reformers need a sponsor and mentor. They
have found one in Greece, more particularly the present Greek PM, who is riding
a high of popularity at home, being on 49% to his rival Georges Papandreou's
Costas Karamanlis is aiming to use his domestic popularity to enhance his
stature abroad and become a true world statesman. Greece has acquired a new
international profile since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, which everyone
knows is the original home of the games. They went off very well, with the
Greeks dispelling any myth that they are sunk in Balkan inefficiency.
Karamanlis has the noble idea of championing the Balkan region as a whole for (EU)
membership. Who better to lead the way than the country that was cradle to
Western civilisation? In fact Greece has for some time, as a veteran member of
NATO and long established within the EU, has sought to become the regional
leader, wielding as the prize perhaps, rather more votes than its own in EU
He began with a tour of the Western Balkans in mid-January, making Croatia his
first port of call.
Karamanlis heaps praise on Croatia's Euro-Atlantic progress, meets with PM
Karamanlis on January 14th reiterated Greece's support for Croatia's
Euro-Atlantic course, after a meeting in Zagreb with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo
Sanader. Karamanlis expressed support for the expansion of the EU and the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into the Western Balkans, saying,
"Greece supports strongly the Croatian road to the EU and NATO, as well as
the expansion of EU to all countries in this region, because it will serve as
the best guarantee for its stability."
Karamanlis, who arrived in Zagreb on the first leg of a visit to Croatia,
Slovenia and Serbia, said bilateral political relations between Greece and
Croatia were excellent, while calling for additional efforts so that bilateral
trade ties reach the excellent level of political relations.
Croatia, Karamanlis said, was ahead of Western Balkan countries in the course
towards incorporation into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Greece, he added, stood
at the side of Croatia on its road to European Union accession, and considered
"significant" the progress and reforms that Croatia has made in order
to complete its accession negotiations. With respect to the membership criteria
for joining NATO, Karamanlis said Croatia has made substantial progress, adding
that Greece looks forward to the prospect of an invitation being extended to
Croatia during the next NATO summit in 2008.
He also said that he and Sanader discussed developments in the Balkans, with a
particular emphasis on Kosovo, noting that Croatia's role was acquiring
particular importance at this time, as it currently chaired the SE Europe
Cooperation Process (SEECP). "Looking back on Croatia's 15-year course,
from its establishment during the turbulent period of the break-up of Yugoslavia
to the present, which finds Croatia on the threshold of the European Union, I
cannot but express my admiration and congratulations for the progress
accomplished," Karamanlis said. Sanader, in turn, said Greece was a firm
supporter of Croatia's Euro-Atlantic prospects, and that premier Karamanlis had
committed himself to backing Croatia for a non-permanent seat on the United
Nations Security Council.
Sanader also said he accepted an invitation by Karamanlis to visit Greece in the
first half of 2008, stressing that he would be accompanied by entrepreneurs on
Finally, the Croatian prime minister further stressed to Karamanlis that his
country will complete preparations for joining the EU and NATO by the end of
Karamanlis later met with Croatian president Stjepe Mesic, while afterwards he
addressed a panegyric meeting of the Croatian cabinet marking the 15th
anniversary of the country's independence.
FOOD & DRINK
New challenges for the Croatian food industry loom
It is noted that in EU countries only those food items are imported which are
hard to produce at home. Most of the food bought by consumers generally comes
from domestic markets. On the other hand, Croatia imports most of its food from
neighbouring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Slovenia.
Croatia has ample resources that would enable it to supply the market with
domestic products, the comparatively high cost of food production combined with
steep tax rates make it cheaper to bring in food products from abroad, Croatia
Agricultural purchase prices in Croatia are low and guaranteed, but state
subsidies are meagre or non-existent. As a result, it is expensive and often
unprofitable for farmers to grow the crops needed for food products. This is
especially true regarding raw materials used to produce oil and sugar. Croatia
is capable of meeting domestic market requirements and also of exporting to
foreign markets. Local farmers, however, have been refusing to grow sugar beets
and sunflowers as the purchase prices set by factories do not cover farming
EBRD lends 40m for Rijeka bypass construction
The EBRD is lending the Croatian state-owned road company Hrvatske Ceste 40
million Euro to build the last section of the eastern bypass in Rijeka, between
the towns of Sveti Kuzam and Krizisce in north-west Croatia, website reporter.gr
said on December 13th.
It will also finance two roads that connect to the bypass. The loan will help
complete the bypass offering motorists an alternative route around Rijeka,
therefore avoiding the city centre, it was reported. It will also help promote
road-sector reform through the introduction of performance-based maintenance
contracts to increase effectiveness and to lower costs of road maintenance in
Croatia. Once the bypass is complete, many of these concerns will be dampened as
traffic flow will mostly be directed around the city, EBRD Director for
Transport Riccardo Puliti was cited as saying by the website. As well as
benefiting residents and tourists, the new bypass will help support those
businesses heavily dependent on the road network for trade purposes, he added.
The project builds on an EBRD strategy to develop road networks in Croatia. With
this loan, the EBRD has provided more than 270 million Euro to finance six road
sector projects in the country, it was reported. These include administrative
reforms aimed at improving the management and development of the road network,
and preparation and implementation of national road plans.