Croatia formally applied for European Union membership. Ivica Racan, Croatian Prime Minister and leader of a reformist coalition that ousted nationalists from power in 2000, handed in the request to start entry talks to Constantin Simitis, Greek Prime Minister and President in office of the Council. "Croatia is formalising its strategic goal of becoming an integral part of this new political entity" he said after submitting the one-page paper. It was accompanied by a multimedia CD with facts on Croatia, pictures of its scenic Adriatic coast and top athletes -- former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic and skier Janica Kostelic. Croatia, a country of 4.4 million people, won independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 but then fought a four-year war with its rebel Serb minority. It remained isolated during the nationalist rule of Franjo Tudjman, who died in 1999. Apart from Slovenia, which is among the first ex-communist countries due to join the EU in 2004, Croatia is the only other former Yugoslav republic to apply to the EU since the socialist federation collapsed in ethnic bloodshed in 1991. "United Europe is an unprecedented challenge of the new era and Croatia has a right to participate in this magnificent process", IvicaRacan said. Romano Prodi, President of the EC, said in a statement the application showed the Balkans was resolved to put behind it forever the dramas and traumas of its recent past.
Introduction of the Croatian request for EU accession SHOTLIST