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Croatia

Yearbook 2008

Croatia. In early January, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader succeeded in forming a new center-right government. His conservative HDZ formed a coalition with three small parties and was also supported by another couple of parties in Parliament. For the first time since independence in 1991, a representative of the Serbian minority was given a government post.

2008 Croatia

According to Countryaah reports, the United Nations War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague launched its first trial against Croats from K. in March The three generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Čermak and Mladen Markač were indicted for war crimes in connection with K.'s 1995 withdrawal of the Krajina outbreak republic, controlled by Croatian Serbs. Čermak and Markač had surrendered to the ICTY (International Criminal Court of the former Yugoslavia) in March 2004, while Gotovina was arrested in Spain in December 2005.

In May, a Croatian court sentenced Mirko Norac to seven years in prison for the murder and torture of civilian Serbs in 1993; the co-accused Rahim Ademi was acquitted of the same charges. The case against the two ex-generals was the first to be transferred from the Hague Tribunal to K. Norać already served a war crime sentence, sentenced in 2003 by another Croatian court.

During the year NATO invited K. to become a new member. But organized crime and corruption emerged as a growing obstacle on K's path to EU membership. In early October, the daughter of a prominent lawyer was murdered in a mafia-like attack. The murder prompted Prime Minister Sanader to dismiss the Interior and Justice Ministers and the National Police Chief. Just a few weeks later, the editor and marketing manager of the magazine Nacional was killed by a car bomb. Sanader promised more resources to the police and faster legal processes in new special courts for mafia offenses.

Perhaps these measures helped the EU Commission in a November report predict that membership negotiations with K. could be terminated in 2009 and membership be a fact a few years later.

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