According to Politics eZine, the political transition of Croatia after the end of the Yugoslav conflict continued its consolidation in the first decade of the 21st century. with the aim of joining the European Union. In this perspective, the country also undertook to bring to justice the personalities involved in the war of the early nineties: thus, after the arrest in 2005 of the fugitive general Ante Gotovina and his extradition to the Netherlands for trial at the Court international criminal law in the Hague for the former Yugoslavia, the path of integration into the EU was facilitated. The projection towards the West of Croatia was also witnessed by the path for admission to NATO, strongly supported also by the United States: the country, which had already begun to standardize its military standards to those of the Alliance, he was officially invited to join the organization in April 2008, becoming a member together with Albania the following year. Internally, Zagreb sought to intervene on endemic problems such as corruption and nepotism, largely inherited from Franjo Tudjman’s presidency. Unexpectedly, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader resigned in June 2009, being replaced by Jadranka Kosor. Arrested in December 2010 in Austria while on the run to escape arrest by the Croatian authorities, he was sentenced for corruption in November 2012 to ten years in prison. The resoluteness shown in the fight against the corruption phenomenon represented a point in favor of Croatia in the process of accession to the EU. However, the negotiations were complicated by the existence of a territorial dispute with Slovenia – a former EU member – for access to the sea in the Piran valley. In 2009, the two countries signed an agreement to resolve the border dispute with an international arbitration and Slovenia removed its veto on Croatia’s entry into the European Union. After a decade of political and economic reforms to conform to EU standards, admission negotiations ended positively in June 2011. In the previous months, the country had been shaken by major street demonstrations in the capital Zagreb, particularly due to of the effects of the economic crisis and of the still too widespread corruption. The elections of December 2011 saw the clear affirmation of the center-left coalition Kukuriku, and the leader of the Social Democratic Party Zoran Milanović assumed the post of premier. In the following month of January, Croatian voters were called to express their opinion on the country’s entry into the EU through a referendum: the turnout was surprisingly low (just over 43% of those entitled), but over 66% voted to in favor of integration, and from 1 July 2013 Croatia officially became the 28th member of the EU. In 2012 there were also important developments in the trial underway in The Hague against Gotovina: convicted in the first degree (April 2011) together with Mladen Markac, both were acquitted on appeal in November, being welcomed as heroes upon their return to their homeland.
On the government policy front, Milanović found himself facing a large budget deficit and an onerous debt, conditions that weighed on the effective implementation of his program. The promise of a revival of the economy through infrastructure development projects also intended to attract foreign investment therefore remained on the whole unfulfilled.