Croatian foreign policy has focused on greater Euro-Atlantic integration, mainly entering the European Union and NATO. In order to gain access to European and trans-Atlantic institutions, it has had to undo many negative effects of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war that ensued, and improve and maintain good relations with its neighbors.
Key issues over the last decade have been the implementation of the Dayton Accords and the Erdut Agreement, nondiscriminatory facilitation of the return of refugees and displaced persons from the 1991-95 war including property restitution for ethnic Serbs, resolution of border disputes with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and general democratization.
Croatia has had an uneven record in these areas between 1996 and 1999 during the right-wing HDZ government, inhibiting its relations with the European Union and the U.S. Improvement in these areas severely hindered the advance of Croatia's prospects for further Euro-Atlantic integration. Progress in the areas of Dayton, Erdut, and refugee returns were evident in 1998, but progress was slow and required intensive international engagement.
Croatia's unsatisfactory performance implementing broader democratic reforms in 1998 raised questions about the ruling party's commitment to basic democratic principles and norms. Areas of concern included restrictions on freedom of speech, one-party control of public TV and radio, repression of independent media, unfair electoral regulations, a judiciary that is not fully independent, and lack of human and civil rights protection.
A centre-left coalition government was elected in early 2000. The SDP-led government slowly relinquished control over public media companies and did not interfere with freedom of speech and independent media, though it didn't complete the process of making Croatian Radiotelevision independent. Judiciary reforms remained a pending issue as well.
Major Croatian advances in foreign relations during this period have included:
Foreign relations were severely affected by the government's hesitance and stalling of the extradition of Croatian general Janko Bobetko to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and inability to take general Ante Gotovina into custody for questioning by the Court.
Refugee returns accelerated since 1999, reached a peak in 2000, but then slightly decreased in 2001 and 2002. The OSCE mission in Croatia has continued to monitor the return of refugees and is still recording civil rights violations. Croatian Serbs continue to have problems with restitution of property and acceptance to the reconstruction assistance programmes. Combined with lacking economic opportunities in the rural areas of former Krajina, the return process is highly troubled.
The new Sanader government repeated the assurances that Croatia will fulfill the missing political obligations, and expedited the extradition of several ICTY indictees.
The European Commission replied to the answers of the questionnaire sent to Croatia on April 20 2004 with a positive opinion. The country was finally accepted as EU candidate in July 2004. Italy and Britain ratified the Stabilization and Association Agreement shortly thereafter, while the ten EU countries that were admitted to membership that year ratified it en masse at a European Summit.
In December 2004, the EU leaders announced that accession negotiations with Croatia would start on March 17 2005 provided that Croatian government cooperates fully with the ICTY. The main issue, the flight of general Gotovina, however, remained unsolved and despite the agreement on an accession negotiation framework, the negotiations did not begin in March 2005.
On October 4 2005 Croatia finally received green light for accession negotiations after the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte officially stated that Croatia is fully cooperating with the Tribunal. This has been the main condition demanded by EU foreign ministers for accession negotiations. The ICTY called upon other southern European states to follow Croatia's good example. Thanks to the consistent position of Austria during the meeting of EU foreign ministers, a long period of instability and the questioning of the determination of the Croatian government to surrender war criminals has ended successfully. The Croatian Prime minister declared that full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal will continue.
The main objective of the Croatian foreign policy is admittance to the European Union. It applied in 2003, and began with accession negotiations in 2005 (see also: Accession of Croatia to the European Union).
Government officials in charge of foreign policy include the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, currently Gordan Jandroković, and the President of the Republic, currently Stjepan Mesić. The chief EU negotiator is Vladimir Drobnjak.
As of 2004, Croatia has diplomatic missions in 124 locations around the world, including two permanent missions to the United Nations. A complete listing of Croatian embassies in foreign countries is available at " Diplomatic Missions and Consular Offices" at the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Republic of Croatia participates in the following international organizations:
CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, FAO, G11, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, ITUC, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SECI, UN, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMOGIP, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Croatia receives support from donor programs of:
Between 1991 and 2003, the EBRD had directly invested a total of 1,212,039,000 EUR into projects in Croatia.
In 1998, U.S. support to Croatia came through the Southeastern European Economic Development Program (SEED), whose funding in Croatia totaled $23.25 million. More than half of that money was used to fund programs encouraging sustainable returns of refugees and displaced persons. About one-third of the assistance was used for democratization efforts, and another 5% funded financial sector restructuring.
In 2003 USAID considered Croatia to be on a "glide path for graduation" along with Bulgaria. Its 2002/2003/2004 funding includes around $10 million for economic development, up to $5 million for the development of democratic institutions, about $5 million for the return of population affected by war and between 2 and 3 million dollars for the "mitigation of adverse social conditions and trends". A rising amount of funding is given to cross-cutting programs in anti-corruption, slightly under one million dollars.
Relations with neighbouring states have normalized somewhat since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Work has begun — bilaterally and within the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe since 1999 — on political and economic cooperation in the region.
Discussions continue between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on various sections of the border, the longest border with another country for each of these countries.
Sections of the Una river and villages at the base of Mount Plješevica are in Croatia, while some are in Bosnia, which causes an excessive number of border crossings on a single route and impedes any serious development in the region. The Zagreb-Bihać-Split railway line is still closed for major traffic due to this issue. The road Karlovac-Plitvice lakes-Knin, which is on the European route E71, is becoming increasingly unused because Croatia built a separate highway to the west of it.
The border on the Una river between Hrvatska Kostajnica on the northern, Croatian side of the river, and Bosanska Kostajnica on the southern, Bosnian side, is also being discussed. A river island between the two towns is under Croatian control, but is claimed by Bosnia. A shared border crossing point has been built and has been functioning since 2003, and is used without hindrance by either party.
The Herzegovinian municipality of Neum in the south makes the southernmost part of Croatia an exclave and the two countries are negotiating special transit rules through Neum to compensate for that. Recently Croatia has opted to build a bridge to the Pelješac peninsula to connect the Croatian mainland with the exclave but Bosnia and Herzegovina has protested that it will close their way to international waters (although Croatian territory and territorial waters surround Bosnian-Herzegovinan ones completely) and has suggested that the bridge must be higher than 55 meters for free passage of all types of ships. Negotiations are still being held.
Slovenia claims that the maritime border in Piran Bay - known as Savudrija Bay by Croatians - does not go through the middle of the bay, while Croatia claims it does. This is causing problems for fishermen due to there being an undefined area where the naval police of each country may patrol.
Related to the border in Piran Bay is Slovenian access to international waters in the form of a corridor which would require Croatia to cede its exclusive rights over at least some of its territorial waters to the west of Umag. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that a coastal state is able to assert its exclusive right to manage all natural resources in a band up to from its shore (an 'exclusive economic zone'), and thus Slovenia's claim to access to the open sea may have a weak legal basis However, when Slovenia notified the UN Secretariat in 1995 of its succession to Yugoslavia's ratification of the Convention, it included a note saying that this system of exclusive economic zones has become part of international law and asserted its rights as a geographically disadvantaged state. Although the convention does make it clear that any decision to declare an exclusive economic zone should be made in co-operation with all interested parties, Croatian sources claim that Slovenia's self-description as a geographically disadvantaged state amounts to an admission that it is a country without access to international waters
A small number of pockets of land on the right-hand side of the river Dragonja in Istria have remained under Croatian jurisdiction after the river was re-routed after the Second World War. This area is located near the Sečovlje-Plovanija official border crossing point (set up by an interim agreement of the two countries in the 1990s).
The area around the peak of the Žumberak/Gorjanci mountain is assigned partly to Slovenia (the Trdinov vrh area) and partly to Croatia (the Sveta Gera area). However, an old Yugoslav People's Army barracks building on the Croatian part of the border is still occupied by a small number of Slovenian army personnel.
Slovenia is disputing Croatia's claim to establish an economic section of the Adriatic, requiring direct access to the international waters. Croatia decided to pursue a policy of stricter control over fishing and other economic use of the sea. This policy has been in place since late 2004 but excludes the EU countries (namely, Slovenia and Italy).
Other issues that have yet to be fully resolved include:
In late 2002, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro adopted an interim agreement to settle the disputed Prevlaka peninsula at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor in Croatia's favour, allowing the withdrawal of the UN monitoring mission. This agreement applies to Montenegro since its independence. Full demilitarization of the area is pending.
Due to the meandering of the Danube, the eastern border of Baranja with Serbia according to cadastral delineation is not followed, as each country controls territory on their side of the main river flow. Further south, near Vukovar and near Šarengrad, there are two river islands (Vukovarska ada and Šarengradska ada) which have been part of SR Croatia (during Yugoslavia) but during the war they came under Serbian control. Croatia is asking that the islands be returned because of the Badinter Arbitration Committee decision from 1991 that all internal borders between Yugoslav republics have become international. Serbia is refusing to return the islands (and disregards the committee decision) with the explanation that they are nearer to the Serbian side of the river so they are Serbian Military occupation of the islands ended recently after an incident in which Serbian military opened fire and arrested the mayor of Vukovar Vladimir Štengel with 19 other Croatian civilians and 8 children who were going to visit Zvezdan Kisić the mayor of the Serbian town Bačka Palanka These Croatian islands are now under Serbian police control.
There are a number of people who are Italian citizens but who had previously been citizens of Yugoslavia before they were exiled shortly after World War II - known as the esuli (exiles) or optanti (volunteers). A later contract between SFR Yugoslavia and Italy prevented the restitution of their property since a deal was made that treated this seized property as war reparations.
Nevertheless, there are now at least two groups of people dissatisfied with the situation:
Neither of these are allowed to pursue these actions legally in Croatia.
Another problem that arose a couple of years ago deals with the fishing zones in the Adriatic sea. Italy denies the right of Croatia to proclaim its own fishing zone before January 1st 2008, because that would break an earlier agreement with Italy and Slovenia . At the same time Italy, without breaking the agreement, has proclaimed its own zone.
|State||Date of Establishment of Relations|
|Austria||January 15, 1992|
|Germany||January 15, 1992|
|Italy||January 17, 1992|
|Hungary||January 18, 1992|
|Sweden||January 29, 1992|
|Switzerland||January 30, 1992|
|Denmark||February 1, 1992|
|Portugal||February 3, 1992|
|Liechtenstein||February 4, 1992|
|Slovenia||February 6, 1992|
|Holy See||February 8, 1992|
|The Netherlands||February 11, 1992|
|Australia||February 13, 1992|
|Latvia||February 14, 1992|
|Ukraine||February 18, 1992|
|Finland||February 19, 1992|
|Norway||February 20, 1992|
|New Zealand||February 25, 1992|
|Estonia||March 2, 1992|
|Spain||March 9, 1992|
|Belgium||March 10, 1992|
|Paraguay||March 13, 1992|
|Lithuania||March 18, 1992|
|Macedonia||March 30, 1992|
|Poland||April 11, 1992|
|Argentina||April 13, 1992|
|Chile||April 15, 1992|
|Iran||April 18, 1992|
|France||April 24, 1992|
|Luxembourg||April 29, 1992|
|Malaysia||May 4, 1992|
|People's Republic of China||May 13, 1992|
|Russia||May 25, 1992|
|United Arab Emirates||June 23, 1992|
|United Kingdom||June 24, 1992|
|Morocco||June 26, 1992|
|Iceland||June 30, 1992|
|Malta||June 30, 1992|
|India||July 9, 1992|
|Sudan||July 17, 1992|
|Greece||July 20, 1992|
|Moldova||July 20, 1992|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||July 21, 1992|
|United States of America||August 11, 1992|
|Bulgaria||August 13, 1992|
|Albania||August 25, 1992|
|Turkey||August 26, 1992|
|Romania||August 29, 1992|
|Indonesia||September 3, 1992|
|Thailand||September 9, 1992|
|Cuba||September 23, 1992|
|Belarus||September 25, 1992|
|Egypt||October 1, 1992|
|Venezuela||October 9, 1992|
|Algeria||October 15, 1992|
|Kazakhstan||October 20, 1992|
|South Korea||November 18, 1992|
|South Africa||November 19, 1992|
|Singapore||November 23, 1992|
|Bolivia||November 26, 1992|
|North Korea||November 30, 1992|
|Qatar||December 5, 1992|
|Mexico||December 6, 1992|
|Sovereign Military Order of Malta||December 22, 1992|
|Guatemala||December 22, 1992|
|Brazil||December 23, 1992|
|Czech Republic||January 1, 1993|
|Slovakia||January 1, 1993|
|Nigeria||January 7, 1993|
|Peru||January 12, 1993|
|Yemen||January 17, 1993|
|Bahrain||January 18, 1993|
|Tunisia||January 30, 1993|
|Georgia||February 1, 1993|
|Cyprus||February 4, 1993|
|San Marino||February 11, 1993|
|Ghana||February 17, 1993|
|Philippines||February 25, 1993|
|Japan||March 5, 1993|
|Mongolia||March 10, 1993|
|Canada||April 14, 1993|
|Uruguay||May 4, 1993|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||May 23, 1993|
|Tanzania||July 2, 1993|
|Togo||December 20, 1993|
|Tonga||December 20, 1993|
|Samoa||March 8, 1994|
|Jordan||June 29, 1994|
|Viet Nam||July 1, 1994|
|Armenia||July 8, 1994|
|Pakistan||July 20, 1994|
|Kuwait||August 10, 1994|
|Cape Verde||August 13, 1994|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||October 7, 1994|
|Angola||November 16, 1994|
|Lebanon||December 5, 1994|
|Azerbaijan||January 26, 1995|
|Ireland||January 27, 1995|
|Uzbekistan||February 6, 1995|
|Colombia||April 25, 1995|
|Andorra||April 28, 1995|
|Burkina Faso||May 18, 1995|
|Saudi Arabia||June 8, 1995|
|Mali||September 20, 1995|
|Zambia||September 20, 1995|
|Côte d'Ivoire||October 17, 1995|
|Ethiopia||October 17, 1995|
|Guinea-Bissau||October 19, 1995|
|Costa Rica||October 19, 1995|
|Afghanistan||January 3, 1996|
|Belize||January 23, 1996|
|Ecuador||February 22, 1996|
|Laos||March 4, 1996|
|Nicaragua||March 29, 1996|
|Panama||June 12, 1996|
|Turkmenistan||July 2, 1996|
|Mozambique||August 23, 1996|
|Serbia and Montenegro (seceded by Montenegro)||September 9, 1996|
|Cambodia||September 10, 1996|
|Jamaica||October 9, 1996|
|Kyrgyzstan||December 23, 1996|
|Sri Lanka||February 14, 1997|
|Maldives||April 8, 1997|
|El Salvador||July 24, 1997|
|Syria||August 29, 1997|
|Mauritius||September 3, 1997|
|Israel||September 4, 1997|
|Seychelles||September 30, 1997|
|Senegal||October 1, 1997|
|Saint Lucia||December 10, 1997|
|Suriname||December 17, 1997|
|Nepal||February 6, 1998|
|The Gambia||October 16, 1998|
|Lesotho||November 6, 1998|
|Uganda||March 10, 1999|
|Eritrea||June 4, 1999|
|Comoros||June 29, 1999|
|Myanmar (Burma)||September 3, 1999|
|Chad||September 17, 1999|
|Antigua and Barbuda||September 20, 1999|
|Honduras||September 20, 1999|
|Grenada||May 19, 2000|
|Nauru||December 14, 2000|
|Benin||March 26, 2001|
|Gabon||October 22, 2001|
|Mauritania||November 11, 2004|
|Iraq||January 5, 2005|
|Montenegro||July 7, 2006|