Croatia. The second round of the presidential elections
was held in January. Social Democrat Ivo Josipović won over
independent candidate Milan Bandić, mayor of Zagreb, with
the percentages 60-40. Josipović promised to fight
corruption and crime, and to cooperate with the government
to implement the reforms required for EU membership. The
President has a predominantly symbolic role.
has a population of 4.076 million (2019). Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who resigned in 2009,
announced his intention to return to politics and try to
breathe new life into the ruling right-wing party HDZ (the
Croatian Democratic Union). In the presidential election,
HDZ's candidate received only 12 percent of the vote in the
first round. But Sanader was instead excluded from HDZ and
became politically savage in parliament. In December, he was
stripped of his criminal immunity and left the country.
Sanader was arrested shortly thereafter in Austria, from
where he was requested to be extradited on suspicion of
Berislav Roncevic, who was Minister of Defense and Home
Affairs during Sanader's reign, was sentenced in December to
four years in prison for corruption and abuse of power.
In January, Serbia brought Croatia before the
International Court of Justice in The Hague on allegations
that the Croatian government was guilty of genocide during
the 1991-95 war. Croatia had previously similarly notified
Serbia and in 2008 was granted the right to sue the
neighboring country for genocide.
A trial began in February against four men accused of
murdering the owner of the magazine Nacional 2008. According
to authorities, the trial was an important step in the fight
against organized crime.
An obstacle on Croatia's road to EU membership was
cleared out of the way in June. The voters in Slovenia then
approved in a referendum the settlement in an infected
border dispute that the governments of the countries struck.
The settlement was adopted with just under 52 percent of the
vote. In the same month, Parliament in Croatia adopted a
number of constitutional amendments required for accession
to the EU. Thereafter, the remaining negotiations with the
EU on competition law, as well as foreign, security and
defense policy were initiated.