- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Contrary to what Jeffrey Kuhner writes in his Nov. 9 Commentary column, “Croatia in Chaos,” Croatia is a stable democracy and a market economy with stable institutions, well on the way to NATO and European Union membership. Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is a widely recognized and respected reformer who has demonstrated resolve and determination in realizing the national goals of EU and NATO membership, fully aware of the scope of reforms that entails. In the past several years, Croatia has become an example of a country that successfully pursues reforms.

Even with the recent slowdown of the economy caused by the global recession trends, Croatia is still the most dynamic transition country in southeastern Europe, with stable economic growth, stable currency, a continuously growing gross domestic product and low inflation. For the past few years, the World Bank has placed Croatia among the top 10 reformers in the world in connection with business and regulatory environment improvements. Not least important is that Croatia also is ranked among the top 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world.

The European Commission assessed in its recent report that the final stage of accession negotiations with Croatia should be reached by the end of 2009 in light of the overall progress Croatia has achieved to date on its EU accession path. Challenges remain, but the Croatian government is determined to devote all the necessary effort to complete the remaining comprehensive reforms stemming from EU accession.

Following recent tragic events, the Croatian police already have apprehended several persons involved in the killing of journalist Ivo Pukanic. The Croatian government did not spare time and effort to further advance its activities to fight against corruption and organized crime and has stepped up regional cooperation in this aspect as well.

Mr. Sanader initiated this new policy by calling two experienced and highly skilled professionals into his government and entrusting them to lead the justice and police departments. The president, the prime minister and the opposition gave full support to the new set of measures that are being prepared by the government in order to efficiently fight organized crime and corruption, including giving priority to organized crime and corruption cases in courts, strengthening anti-corruption units and amending and passing new legislation, enhancing institutional capacities and interagency coordination.

KOLINDA GRABAR

KITAROVIC

Ambassador

Republic of Croatia

Washington

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