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Vol 3, No 3
22 January 2001
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Croatian News News from Croatia
All the important news
since 13 January 2001

Dan Damon

More DU news

Some of those Croatian specialists who took part in mine-clearing operations in Kosovo after NATO's bombardment and the expulsion of the Serb army in 1999 have undergone initial medical tests this week.

Doctors were checking for symptoms linked to possible exposure to depleted uranium munitions (DU). Damir Dodig, head of the institute for nuclear medicine based at Zagreb's Rebro hospital, said the results of the tests on thirty people, would be announced would be announced within two months.

Vecernji list repeated NATO's claim that Croatians need have no fear of radioactivity, but somehow that failed to bring a feeling of comfort and security, since news also emerged that some of the material used in the weapons was not simply the product of mined uranium ore, as had first been reported, but had been taken from spent nuclear fuel.


Friends after all

The meeting between Croatian President Stipe Mesić and his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Đukanović on Tuesday in Zagreb seems to have gone like an old comrade's reunion. The agreed that there should never again be wars on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

"It is my pleasure to say that there is no more fear of some events which would rock parts of ex-Yugoslavia's region ... I suppose all open issues will be settled politically and democratically," Mesić told the press. "When I say that I also think of Serbia-Montenegro relations ... I think there is no great danger that things will get out of control and I suppose everybody has learned a lesson from what happened."

Đukanović told Mesić about Montenegro's view of its future role in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). "We wish to achieve Montenegro's strategic goals as soon as possible ... and they are further democratization, market reforms and integration into European and Atlantic structures," said Đukanović. "First of all, we are committed to have dialogue in communication with Serbia in order to contribute to the advancement of regional stability ... We believe that the era of wars is definitely behind Southeast Europe," he added.

The economic links that both countries need are going well, the two leaders declared. "Croatian businessmen are now present in Montenegro, and vice-versa. Dubrovnik had a fantastic tourist season partly due to warmer relations with Montenegro ... especially after both sides stressed that Prevlaka is not a territorial issue," said Mesić. Prevlaka is Croatia's southernmost tip which borders Montenegro and is notionally still threatened by Yugoslav army positions nearby.


Things can only get better

Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Račan has been emphasising the positive this week, too. He told a session to mark his government's first anniversary in office that the year ahead will be crucial in the struggle to bring lasting change, new job opportunities and democratisation.

Račan said the main goals for the coming year are enhanced industrial production and much more effective exports policy. A big task lies ahead in creating new jobs, he said: Večernji list reported during the week that there were only 8339 new positions available for 378,500 unemployed in December. The paper also gave the somewhat macabre news that in the same month, 53 people died while waiting for jobs.

The Prime Minister also said that to achieve a cut in the unemployment rate, the privatization of state enterprises should be stepped up.

"Although almost a year passed since our government was set up," said Mr Račan, "we did not call this session to gloat, because the problems and difficulties we are facing on a daily basis do not allow us to be self-satisfied. The public and our voters rightly expect a speedy and effective resolution of the deep economic and social crisis which we inherited."

There was much to celebrate, though, he said, including an end to Croatia's international isolation. "This is shown by our membership of the Partnership for Peace and the World Trade Organization, by the Zagreb summit and the start of the negotiations with the EU about the agreement on stabilization and association. We have consolidated bilateral relations with all neighbouring countries and the majority of European countries. We have successfully revived cooperation with the IMF and the World Bank," said the PM

One important change in Croatia's diplomatic behaviour of which Mr Račan made much was improved relations with the the international tribunal in The Hague. "I believe that following the recent talks with chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte, we have resolved the most controversial issues and that we are entering a more peaceful period of cooperation with the Hague tribunal."


Better financial news

Jutarnji list reported the finance ministries latest estimates for 2001, which are that GDP will rise to four per cent and inflation will be cut to four per cent, from last year's 7.5. The value of the kuna will not change significantly, according to the latest budget plans, and the central bank says interest rates will be lower.


In Xandau did Kubla Khan...

The marketing deparment of Brijuni island, one of former dictator Josip Broz Tito's favourite private resorts, has been inviting journalists to see how marvelous a holiday destination it has become for wealthy foreigners. But as Mirjana Blagojević from the company was forced to admit, "the revival has not happen yet, partly due to the wars in the region which discouraged visitors but also due to the fact that with only 137 rooms our income is limited."

The island still has something of a mythical atmosphere. An exhibition of photographs tells its story, including the story of how Tito made the land blossom. "All the experts were saying: tangerines will not grow at Brijuni. But, Tito said: Yes, they will. And so they grew," says curator Anton Vitasović, showing journalists a permanent exhibition of 200 photos on the main island of Veli Brijun.

It is interesting how many tourists were so frightened by the images of war on their televisions that they didn't dare look at the map and check how far Brijuni was from any possibility of violence in 1991 to 1995. If they had, they would have realised that they could have have had almost exclusive access to the island's three hotels, three villas, tennis courts, Roman ruins, golf course, safari park and gazelles running free across the island, and a microclimate that is one of the mildest in Europe.

Dan Damon, 20 January 2001

Moving on:


Jutarni list
Večernji list
BBC Radio


Jan Čulík
TV Spies

T J Majcherkiewicz
Poland's Central Banker

Sam Vaknin

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Swedes in Charge

Bernhard Seliger
Deutschmark und Ostmark

Brian J Požun
Carving up Slovenia

Jana Altman
New Czech Media Law

Beth Kampschror
War Criminals Roaming Free

Alex Smailes
Environmental Nightmare

Mel Huang
A Mosque for Tallinn

Wojtek Kość
Poland's Muslims

Dan Damon
A Rediscovery of Faith

Jonathan Bolton
Scott Spector's Prague Territories

Charles Sabatos
Josef Škvorecký's When Eve Was Naked

Peter Hames
Slovak Film

Andrew James Horton
Jerzy Stuhr's Latest

Štěpán Kotrba NEW!
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Andrea Mrozek
Germany: Fears Abound

Oliver Craske
UK: Nukes Getting Nearer


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