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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)

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Update No: 128 - (28/01/08)

Resolution of the crisis
Croatia held crucial parliamentary elections at the end of last year, which were inconclusive. Parliament, however, has finally approved the nomination of the cabinet led by Ivo Sanader two months after a close electoral contest, that had failed to identify a clear winner. 

The president, Stjepan Mesic, authorised Mr Sanader on December 15 to form a new governing coalition based on the final count from closely contested November 25 parliamentary elections. The prime minister – whose centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) edged ahead of its main rival, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) – has promised to muster a stable majority in the 153-seat chamber. Support from ethnic Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who voted in a diaspora electoral unit, boosted the HDZ’s narrow lead.

A statesman in the making
Sanader has done something remarkable. He has steered his party away from its hard-line nationalist origins under Franjo Tudjman, the autocratic president who led Croatia to independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and decisively defeated the ethnic Serb rebels who had seized around a third of the new state’s territory. He is being inclusive, rather than the traditionally Balkan proclivity of being exclusive.

Sanader, the centre- right Prime Minister, has managed to build a coalition by making concessions to the social liberals, the Serb party and the farmers’ political representation. He also has the support of smaller parties giving his coalition a sizeable majority. He has shown considerable imagination and daring. For the first time a Serb reaches the position of Deputy Prime Minister and the cabinet includes a member of the Roma minority, which is unprecedented. 

The EU lies ahead
It might be quite a challenge for this cabinet to deliver on the promise of Croatia to become the 28th member of the EU before the end of the decade. There is no doubt that Croatia is the next in line to join the EU. It is actually better qualified to be an EU member than Bulgaria and Romania, the last two to join, being less corrupt and more genuinely out-going and democratic.

The Peasant’s Party holds key positions and might obstruct talks in some of the more difficult chapters of the accession negotiations. However, the composition of this cabinet sends a positive signal, with the inclusion of minorities which, to date, had not had an opportunity to weigh in on Croatian politics. 

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