Croatia. In June, the Government and the UN Criminal
Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia agreed that lower-level
prosecutors could be tried in Croatia. In addition, Croatia pledged to
hand over documents relating to high-ranking persons who
were prosecuted or were under investigation by the tribunal.
However, when the court in September published charges
against General Janko Bobetko, it crackled in the
cooperation. According to
Countryaah website, Prime Minister Ivica Račan announced that the
government did not intend to extradite Bobetko and thus
defied the court and the international community for the
first time. The 83-year-old Bobetko was commander during the
1991-95 war and had been charged with crimes against
humanity. In his homeland, he was seen as a war hero and
many feared violent protests if he were to be extradited.
In the autumn, the EU stressed that the refusal to
cooperate with the UN tribunal would hamper Croatia's ability to
approach the Union. Račan admitted that any sanctions would
hit Croatia very hard, but still refused to give in.
Earlier, in July, the government resigned due to serious
fragmentation within the five-party coalition. But Račan
immediately announced his intention to form a new government
and continue his reform policy until the next regular
elections in 2004.
On July 30, the new government was approved by 84 votes
to 47. It, like the old one, was led by Račan's Social
Democratic SPH. The crisis arose when the social-liberal
HSLS refused to ratify an agreement on co-ownership of the
Krsko nuclear power plant, which was signed with neighboring
Slovenia the year before. HSLS was outside the new
In April, Croatia reached a settlement with Yugoslavia on the
border crossing of the Peninsula Prevlaka, the first since
the outbreak of the war in 1991. The parties agreed that a
normalization of the situation was possible which would
eventually lead to the UN being able to discontinue its
small peacekeeping operation there.
In July 2010, the authorities severely cracked down on a
peaceful demonstration in Zagreb and arbitrarily arrested
140 participants. The demonstration was carried out by the
civic movement Pravo na Grad (Right to a City)
protesting the destruction of an area of the Old Town to
make way for a new shopping center. Pravo na Grad
has previously conducted signature collections and protests
ifbm. construction works in the old town. Amnesty
International objected to the arbitrary arrests of the
authorities and the restriction of freedom of assembly.
Former Prime Minister Sanader was involved in the
corruption of HDZ and in December 2010 Parliament therefore
decided to waive his immunity. An arrest warrant was issued,
but he managed to flee the country; was called through
Interpol, but was arrested in Salzburg a few days later.
The corruption cases around HDZ continued through 2010,
and while the government fired thousands of public servants,
protests and demonstrations escalated.
In April 2011, Croatian general Ante Gotovina was
sentenced to 24 years in prison by the war crimes court of
ex-Yugoslavia. The verdict triggered protests on the
Croatian right wing.
The corruption cases surrounding HDZ continued through
2011, and the party's treasurer Branka Pavošević had to
explain to the police about the party's secret funds that
had been used to fund the previous elections. In October,
State Attorney Mladen Bajić decided to charge HDZ as a
In 2011, the Social Democracy initiated the formation of
the Kukuriku coalition, which consisted of 4 center-left
parties. The coalition won a landslide victory in the
December parliamentary elections when it gained 40% of the
vote and Social Democracy itself became the largest party.
For the ruling party HDZ, however, the election was a
disaster. Together with the coalition partners HGS and DC,
it declined to 23.8%. It was the first election in which HDZ
was not the largest in Parliament and was seen as a severe
weakening of Croatian right-wing nationalism.