Destinations Magazine

Croatia and the European Union: More Normal, and Glummer

By Stizzard

THE economy is stagnating, unemployment is rising and many young Croats are poisoned by hate. Some flirt with fascism, and the country is riven by intolerance of those “who think, live, pray, write and speak differently”. Not the rallying cry of an opposition leader, but the sober assessment of Ivo Josipovic, Croatia’s Social Democratic (SDP) president.At least this year the economy may stop contracting, after five years of shrinkage. But with unemployment over 20%, it is no surprise that Croats are losing faith in their leaders—and in the European Union, which Croatia joined only last July. Zoran Milanovic, the SDP prime minister, is uninspiring, finds economics boring and baffles even supporters with his decisions. Even more unpopular is Tomislav Karamarko, leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the main opposition party, which has seen support leach away because of internal corruption.It is not only Croats who are disappointed. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, did not go to Zagreb to celebrate the country’s accession to the EU. The Germans let it be known that this was because the Croatian government was blocking the extradition of former Yugoslav secret-service agents wanted in Germany for the 1983 murder of a Croatian defector. One of them, Josip Perkovic, went on to help set up Croatia’s secret service; his son is Mr Josipovic’s national security adviser….

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