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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: 159 - (26/08/10)

Into the EU
Many observers have concluded that the EU made a big mistake in shelving Croatia for EU membership ahead of Bulgaria and Romania. The two latter have gross problems of crime and corruption that the former largely lacks.

But initiatives are afoot to bring Croatia into the EU fold. Proving a pioneer here is Slovenia, a former adversary within the former Yugoslavia.

Slovenia and Croatia agreed on August 14 on ways to settle the problem of Croat depositors in a now-defunct Slovenian bank, removing one of the last bilateral obstacles to Croatia's bid to join the European Union. "We have determined the way. Experts will work on details over the next three months," Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor said after meeting Croatian counterpart Jadranka Kosor in the Slovenian lakeside resort of Bohinj.

The overhang of history
There was of course a reason for the deferral of Croatia's EU hopes. That was its close involvement in the unravelling of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, from which Bulgaria and Romania were free.

On the eve of the anniversary of the Croatian military onslaught against the country's ethnic Serb areas that resulted in the deaths of some 2,000 people and exile of over 200,000 the Serbian president referred to the operation as a crime that should not be forgotten.

In Croatia, where the day is celebrated as a national holiday, Kosor took part in ceremonies to mark the 15th anniversary of Operation Storm, and said it represents "the victory over the Milošević policies for achieving Greater Serbia."

“It is a historical fact and we in Croatia will not allow historical facts to be changed, especially in such actions that meant so much for the final liberation of Croatia,” Kosor was quoted as saying.

Regarding the Hague Tribunal war crimes trials for the three former Croatian generals who headed the operation, and yesterday's prosecution demand that they be found guilty and given from 17 to 27 years in jail, Kosor said that she could not comment on court issues in general, in her capacity as prime minister. However, Kosor added that she believed that “things will work out the way everyone expects them to.”

Generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Čermak and Mladen Markač are blamed for the war crimes during and after the attack, while late Croat President Franjo Tuđman is seen as responsible for the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Serbs.

Croatian President Ivo Josipović said on the 15th anniversary of the operation that he regrets the victims, but that the operation itself "cannot be questioned by anyone".

The EU comes to the rescue
The European Commission has provisionally closed two more chapters in Croatia's EU accession talks, moving the country further along the path to EU membership.

Croatian and EU negotiators on August 17 closed Chapter 12 - Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy, and Chapter 32 - Financial Control.

At the end of June this year Croatia made a major step towards EU membership when it opened the final remaining chapters in its accession talks. The most significant and challenging of these is Chapter 23, which covers the judiciary and fundamental rights. Brussels agreed to the opening of this chapter only after Croatia was given a positive evaluation by Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Zagreb started accession negotiations with the European Union in October 2005, and has since closed 22 chapters out of 33 in total.

Croatia hopes to be the next state to join the European Union, and will almost certainly be the second former Yugoslav republic to become a member of the bloc, after Slovenia joined in 2004.

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