Zagreb’s Reign

Zagreb’s Reign

Marking the end of Zagreb’s decade-long effort to join mainstream Europe, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said Croatia had met expectations.

“Croatia has fulfilled all the conditions for joining … I think it is an excellent example to other candidate countries,” Fuele told a Croatian government session where he presented the final monitoring report.

Croatia will be the bloc’s first new member since Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007. The other EU hopefuls in the Balkans – Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo – have yet to start entry talks.

Zagreb concluded EU accession talks in June 2011 and will join on July 1, once its accession treaty has been ratified by all current 27 members. In the past two years, the government was required to complete the restructuring and sale of its ailing shipyards and resolve a banking dispute with Slovenia.

While the Commission’s report was largely positive about Croatia’s readiness to become the 28th EU member, its language on fighting organised crime was less glowing.

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Unclear with donations

Unclear with donations

The previous head of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Jadranka Kosor, appeared as a witness at the trial in the Fimi Media corruption case on Tuesday, saying that “with hindsight” she should have insisted that the money that was deposited in the party coffers when she took over the HDZ be returned to the donors or paid into the state budget.

Kosor was referring to the 2 million kuna and 300,000 euros which party treasurer Mladen Barisic deposited in the party’s safe after she took over from Ivo Sanader, who is charged with the other accused in this case of siphoning about 70 million kuna from state institutions and companies via the privately-owned marketing agency Fimi Media into the HDZ’s slush fund.

Kosor stressed that Barisic had said, when handing over the money, that it had come from donations, adding that she had no reason to suspect its origin. She said she had begun to suspect its origin following media reports on the Fimi Media case, after which she notified Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic, and HDZ secretary-general Branko Bacic handed over the money to the Chief State Prosecutor’s Office (DORH).

“With the benefit of hindsight, I would have proposed that the money be given back to the donors or immediately paid into the state budget,” Kosor said, adding that at that time she had served as prime minister and had been less involved with the party’s affairs.

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Transcripts not shown

Transcripts not shown

The trial for the siphoning of more than HRK 70 million from state institutions and companies in the Fimi Media case resumed at the Zagreb County Court on Monday, when transcripts of former HDZ treasurer Mladen Barisic’s depositions were read out and tapes of them were shown.

Barisic admitted to bringing cash to former prime minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Ivo Sanader and filling the HDZ’s slush fund with state money.

At the last hearing, he would not state his defense, so the panel of judges decided to watch the tapes and read the transcripts of his earlier depositions to the anti-corruption office USKOK.

“Sanader called me and asked that I collect as much money in euros as possible. I took that as an order, as I did before, collected the money and took it to Sanader,” Barisic said in one of his depositions.

He said the money siphoned through the Fimi Media marketing agency was used to pay the hotel bills of Sanader’s brothers and that he had to give them cash as well until Sanader stepped down as PM.

He said that at Sanader’s request, he paid for the import of Mercedes oldtimers for Sanader’s friend Mario Zubovic, and that he favoured the partner of Sanader’s daughter in the purchase of a car.

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Revenue Credit History

Revenue Credit History

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Uncertainty in Kosor

Uncertainty in Kosor

Kosor denied claims that, when resigning as prime minister, Sanader told her that elections could not be won with legal money as a third should be raised “under the table”.

“I can’t remember details, but I have said that we didn’t discuss that. Sanader told me that there was a treasurer and that he was dealing with finances. As for under-the-table financing, I don’t remember that and I don’t think it was like that. Knowing myself, I would have asked him what it meant,” she said.

Kosor said that while she ran the HDZ the party’s presidency did not discuss the 2 million kuna and 300,000 euros which the treasurer Barisic had deposited in the party’s safe before leaving his post, and that she agreed with secretary-general Branko Bacic hand over the money to the DORH.

“That money was not spent and I thought that the presidency need not discuss it,” Kosor said.

The next hearing was set for July 9.

In addition to Sanader, Barisic and the HDZ as a legal entity, the accused in the case are former government spokesman Ratko Macek, former HDZ chief accountant Branka Pavosevic, and Fimi Media owner Nevenka Jurak.

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