Josipovic wins Croatian presidential elections

Zagreb, Jan 11 - Croatia's opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Ivo Josipovic has swept the country's presidential election run-off Sunday to become the next head of state, exit surveys said.

Television channels Nova and RTL said Josipovic with 64.6 percent of the vote defeated his rival, the populist Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, who garnered 35.3 percent.

"We knew the difference would be vast," Igor Dragovan from Josipovic's campaign headquarters said. The margin projected by exit polls is in line with the last-minute popularity surveys.

Josipovic, 52, also clearly dominated the first round of the vote, Dec 27, but did not win the 50 per cent required for an immediate victory and was forced into the run-off.

Croatian parliament ratifies border agreement with Slovenia

Croatian parliament ratifies border agreement with Slovenia Zagreb - Croatia's parliament Friday ratified an agreement that could lead to settling a border dispute with Slovenia.

A majority of 129 legislators voted for the document while six were against a move to send the border dispute to international arbitration - a condition set by Slovenia for unblocking Croatia's membership talks with the European Union.

Slovenia will hold a national referendum on the border deal in early 2010.

Croatia presidential race offers voters 13 candidates

Croatia presidential race offers voters 13 candidatesZagreb - Croats will have a choice of 13 candidates when they vote for their new president on December 27, the daily Vecernji List said Tuesday.

Incumbent President Stjepan Mesic has served two five-year terms, the maximum allowed by law.

Recent surveys predict a tight race between two front-runners from the opposition Social Democratic Party: the "official" candidate, Ivo Josipovic, and the party "dissident," Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic.

Zagreb mayor to run for the president of Croatia

Milan BandicZagreb  - The mayor of Croatia's capital Zagreb, Milan Bandic, announced Thursday he will run for the president in the country's December 27 elections.

Bandic, 54, is one of the most popular politicians in the country. The announcement of his candidacy, is a clear sign that the Social Democrat (SDP) - who had a long dispute with his party's leadership - has finally separated from it and will run solo.

After his announcement, the SDP said Bandic is no longer a member. The SDP's candidate for president, Ivo Josipovic, has a slight advantage in polls, but media speculate that he stands little chance against Bandic.

Croatia EU accession back on course as Slovenia border row settled

Croatia, Stockholm, SwedenStockholm  - Slovenia and Croatia on Wednesday signed a agreement ending a long-standing border dispute that has blocked Croatia's accession talks with the European Union.

The two country's prime ministers signed the deal in Stockholm - Sweden is the current holder of the rotating EU presidency.

The dispute centres on the obscure north Adriatic bay of Piran, and dates back to 1991 and the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Attending the ceremony in Sweden were the prime ministers of Croatia, Jadranka Kosor, Slovenia, Borut Pahor and Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden.

Croatian deputy premier resigns over a corruption scandal

Croatian deputy premier resigns over a corruption scandalZagreb - Croatian Deputy Premier Damir Polancec resigned under pressure of a massive corruption scandal, state television HTV said Friday.

Polancec, 42, had been implicated in the scandal over an illegal takeover attempt at the Podravka food company. Several officials in the company were arrested in connection with the affair.

Polancec, in charge of the economy and privatization in Croatia, the next in line for EU membership, scheduled a press conference later on Friday. (dpa)

Croatian opposition refuses support for Slovenia border agreement

Croatian opposition refuses support for Slovenia border agreement Zagreb - Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor on Wednesday failed to get support from the opposition for an agreement that could lead to settling a border dispute with Slovenia, local media said.

Kosor canceled a cabinet meeting Wednesday night after failing to secure backing for an agreement to send the border dispute to international arbitration. Arbitration was a condition Slovenia had set for unblocking Croatia's membership talks with the EU.

Istria challenges Tuscany to a duel of culinary delights

Porec, Croatia  - Wine, olive oil, truffles and prosciutto are the weapons in a duel between the Croatian region of Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula in the Adriatic across from Venice, and Italy's tourist-mobbed Tuscany.

"We're aiming at artistically minded, well-to-do married couples who are taken with our culinary delights. And our offensive includes travellers to Provence and South Tyrol," said Istria's head of tourism, Denis Ivosevic, who is nothing if not brimming with confidence.

Istria's inland was largely deserted until the mid-1980s. About 120 villages had been wholly abandoned, and roads, electricity, and telephone connections were completely inadequate.

Bilic to stay on as Croatia coach

Bilic to stay on as Croatia coachZagreb  - Slaven Bilic is to stay on as Croatia coach despite his side's failure to qualify for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Croatia could manage no better than third in Group 6 behind England and Ukraine, meaning the Balkan nation misses out on a major footballing tournament for the first time since Euro 2000.

However, despite the disappointment Bilic, who has been in his post since July 2006, will now lead Croatia through the qualification campaign for Euro 2012.(dpa)

Former cabinet minister can face charges for corruption

Former cabinet minister can face charges for corruptionZagreb  - The Croatian parliament on Friday lifted the immunity from prosecution of a former government minister, now a legislator on the ruling party's ticket, paving the way to a high-profile corruption trial, national television HTV said.

A former minister of defence and interior, Berislav Roncevic can now face charges of corruption in connection with a purchase of vehicles for the military that allegedly cost the country 10.2 million kuna (2 million dollars) in 2004.

Bilic under pressure to resign as Croatia coach

Bilic under pressure to resign as Croatia coachZagreb  - The Croatian sports media on Monday unanimously pressed the nation's coach Slaven Bilic to resign after his team is left with only a vague chance to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

"Go, good man, your time has expired, the arena which until recently cheered for you and glorified your name, now turned the thumb down," the Jutarnji List daily said.

Mass-circulation paper Vecernji List accused Bilic of committing "mortal sins" which have cost the nation a trip to the final in South Africa.

England squad has no scope for complacency, says Capello

England squad has no scope for complacency, says CapelloLondon, Oct 4 : After England''s astounding 5-1 win over Croatia last month, which secured their place in the finals of the 2010 World Cup, manager Fabio Capello has said that there is no scope for any complacency, and the team has to continue in the same authoritative manner in all the games.

“We are England, one of the best teams in the world, and we can play against the best and be confident that we can win. We have to respect our opponents, but play as a team and without fear in every game,” The News of the World quoted Capello, as saying.

Croatia gets only two offers for six shipyards

Croatia gets only two offers for six shipyards Zagreb - Croatia received two valid bids in an international tender for its six shipyards, the country's privatization fund said Wednesday.

Offers were made for Brodotrogir in Trogir and for Brodosplit, the smaller of the two shipyards, in Split. It was not immediately clear whether the offers would be accepted.

"The problems of the Croatian shipbuilding industry are much larger" than what had been indicated at the end of 2008," Deputy Premier Damir Polancec said after the offers were opened.

Czechs sweep Croatia to reach first Davis Cup final

Czechs sweep Croatia to reach first Davis Cup final Porec, Croatia  - Thomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek completed their two-man weekend sweep of Croatia to put the Czech Republic into a first-ever Davis Cup final Saturday after clinching the weekend tie 3-0 with a doubles win.

The pair who each won marathon singles rubbers a day earlier, combined for a defeat of Croatians Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 to secure the December 4-6 finals place against the winner from holder Spain and Israel.

Croatian government to relax smoking ban

Croatian government to relax smoking banZagreb  - The Croatian government decided Thursday to loosen the country's smoking ban after bar owners complained it was harming business, Zagreb media reported.

Smoking will be allowed in bars and restaurants under strict conditions, including proper ventilation, designated smoking areas and informing customers of the dangers of smoking, media reported.

Parliament will have to approve the new measures before they come into force.

Croatia "stomped out like cigarette butt" at Wembley, press laments

Zagreb  - Croatia's 5-1 defeat against England in a World Cup qualifier has left the team "humiliated" and "on its knees," the Jutarnji List daily said Thursday.

"They stomped us out like a cigarette butt," it noted. "Croatia was broken, humiliated at Wembley, it's football face slapped harder than ever before ... we will never wash the shame off."

The outcome was a "hard landing" and "shameful" for Croatia, who now have to fight with Ukraine for the second group place and a play-off for passage to the tournament in South Africa next year.

Croatian labour unions squabble over protests

Croatian labour unions squabble over protestsZagreb  - A Croatian labour union launched nationwide protests Wednesday, demanding government measures to shield workers from the effects of the crisis, but amid criticism and without support from the main workers organizations.

The HUS union opened its week of protests in Vinkovci, a town on Croatia's eastern border, with plans to spread them over the next seven days before closing with a demonstration in Zagreb, the internet news portal Index reported.

Croatia will have a tough game against England, says its coach

London, Sep 6: Prior Croatian manager Slaven Bilic has said that that his side has the potential to crush in a World Cup qualifier.

However, he admits that while his team stopped England from qualifying for Euro 2008, this time around, Fabio Capello’s squad is strong, and pressure is more.

“This time, England under Fabio Capello are a different team. Same players, yes, but a completely different team. When we went to Wembley two years ago, there was no pressure on us. We had already won the group and a victory was a great bonus,” News of the World quoted Bilic, as saying.

Croatia outraged Australia won't extradite war crime suspect

Croatia outraged Australia won't extradite war crime suspect Zagreb - The decision of Australia not to extradite former Serb warlord Dragan Vasiljkovic for a war crimes trial in Croatia was a "slap in the face," a human rights activist wrote in a column in a Croatian newspaper Thursday.

"This decision is unjust, unfounded, dishonorable, outrageous and a dangerous precedent," wrote Ivan Zvonimir Cicak of the Croatian Helsinki Committee, a human rights watchdog.

Croatia accuses England of foul play

Croatia explores mass grave of WWII Croatian soldiers London, Sep. 1 : Croatia have accused England of a conspiracy to deliberately nobble their star players.

According to The Sun, Croat FA president Vlatko Markovic set the tone by claiming his Premier League-based players have been targeted.

Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric is out for six weeks after fracturing his right leg on Saturday, while Arsenal striker Eduardo suffered an horrific broken leg 18 months ago.

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