Croatia. According to
countryaah, two thirds of voters voted in January for
Croatia's EU membership, but voter turnout was only 43.5%.
Among the Naysayers were mainly right-wing nationalists, and
they suffered a setback when the war criminal convicted
former general Ante Gotovina expressed his support for
membership, saying that Croatia belongs in the EU.
Membership was expected to take effect in 2013.
In March, the Croatian Parliament approved the Accession
Treaty, which was concluded with the EU in December 2011.
Parliament in the EU's existing member states did the same
gradually over the year. One exception, however, was
Slovenia, which demanded that an unresolved banking conflict
with Croatia be resolved first. The two former Yugoslav
republics disputed savings, which a large number of Croats
claimed to have had in a Slovenian bank when Yugoslavia
began to collapse in 1991.
Teachers, nurses and other public servants demonstrated
in October, in protest of wage cuts and other cuts in the
public sector, in the first major protest against the
left-wing alliance that took place just under a year
In November, the war hero Gotovina and the co-accused
General Mladen Markac˘, both of whom were sentenced to long
prison sentences in 2011. According to the Supreme Court of
the War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague where the judges were
appealed, evidence was found that they were responsible for
war crimes against Serbs in Krajina in 1995. cheering crowds
as they returned to Croatia.
Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced in
November to ten years in prison and € 5 million in fines for
receiving millions in bribes from the Austrian bank Hypo in
1994 and from the Croatian oil company MOL 2009.
The economy was under severe pressure, and unemployment
was just over 17%. A glimmer of light was reports that the
tourist year seemed to be the best so far. Nearly 10 million
foreign tourists visited Croatia in just two summer months.
The Croatian authorities' unwillingness to arrest General
Ante Gotovina caused the accession negotiations with the EU
to stall during the year. Gotovina was wanted by the UN War
Crimes Court in The Hague for war crimes, while in Croatia
he was considered a war hero after he led the country's
conquest of Kraijna in 1995. At the end of the year, the EU
and Croatia reached a joint agreement on Gotovina. In
October negotiations were resumed and in December he was
arrested in Spain.
In June 2007, the UN War Criminal Tribunal sentenced
Serbian militia leader Milan Martic to 35 years in prison
for murder and persecution while serving as police chief of
the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Kraijna in the
mid-90's. He thus became the first war criminal from Kraijna
to be sentenced in court.
Generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac
were brought before the International Criminal Court for
ex-Yugoslavia. They were charged with war crimes and crimes
against humanity in connection with an offensive against
rebel Serbs in 1995. The court tried on several occasions to
obtain documents from Croatia, but in vain. The EU also
intervened and put pressure on Zagreb.
In April 2009, the country joined NATO.
Prime Minister Sanader surprisingly resigned on July 1,
2009. He was replaced in the post by his party mate Jadranka
Kosor, who at the same time became the country's first
female prime minister. Upon his resignation, Sanader had
declared that he was leaving politics and would never
return. The categorical opinion lasted only ½ years. After
the defeat of HDZ in the presidential election, Sanader
declared that he would be back in politics. It was not
popular in HDZ that threw him out the next day.
The resignation of Sanader in July, Croatia's
unwillingness to cooperate with the International Criminal
Court for ex-Yugoslavia and a border dispute with Slovenia
halted the country's accession negotiations with the EU from
mid-2009. Only in October did Slovenia give up its
opposition to Croatia's membership.