A large majority of Croatians are Catholics. The Catholic Church and its affiliated organizations have had a prominent role in society since independence in 1991. However, the state and church are separate, and all religions have the same protection in the Constitution.
Serbian residents are generally Orthodox Christians, while Bosnians and Albanians are predominantly Sunni Muslims. There are also some Protestants and other Christians, as well as small groups of followers of other religions.
In a 2011 census, nearly one in twenty residents chose not to identify with any religion at all. That was significantly more than ten years earlier.
During the Yugoslav era (1945–1991), the Catholic Church was discouraged because it was associated with Croatian independence aspirations. Religion was an important part of the propaganda during the 1990s war in former Yugoslavia, but the war was hardly rooted in religious contradictions. Today, the church is an important national symbol, especially for conservative political forces.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Croatia, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Croatia wants to buy back stake in oil companies
The government intends to buy back the Hungarian oil company MOL’s 49 percent stake in the Croatian INA, states Prime Minister Plenković (see also November 2012 and May 2014). The share is estimated to be worth EUR 1.9 billion. Plenković assures that the purchase will not increase on the Croatian government debt.
Regional Special Forces
Croatia, together with Bulgaria, Slovenia and Hungary, are setting up a dedicated NATO-sponsored Air Force to combat terrorism in North Africa / the Mediterranean.
New opposition leader
After Zoran Milanović resigned from the party leader post after the election defeat, the Social Democratic SDP elected 36-year-old Davor Bernardić as new party leader.
Ex-General Gotovina gets government job
Former General Ante Gotovina is appointed Special Adviser to the Ministry of Defense. It happens in conjunction with a meeting in Vukovar, the day before the 25-year commemoration is celebrated when the city fell after the Serbian siege in 1991. Gotovina has not held any political post since he was acquitted, although both he and Mladen Markać have been a consultative security body since 2015 (see November 2012).
New government is formed
With the support of 91 of Parliament’s 151 members, a new coalition government is voted under HDZ leader Andrej Plenković. In addition to the HDZ center-right Party Most and the government includes eight representatives from the national minorities. In the government program presented by Plenković, there are four goals that will be achieved by 2020: stable and sustainable economic growth, the creation of new jobs, the stop of emigration and social justice and solidarity.
Petrov new President
Most leader Božo Petrov is elected President of Parliament, supported by 132 members. Petrov, 36 years old, will be Croatia’s youngest president to date. According to a settlement with HDZ, he will have the post for two years, after which an HDZ member will take over.
HDZ wins new election
In the parliamentary elections, the center-right party HDZ, under its new party leader Andrej Plenković, gets 61 seats, while the center-left coalition with the Social Democratic SDP as the largest party gets 54 seats. Most gets 13 seats but sets a number of requirements to participate in a new government.
Continued tensions between Croatia and Serbia
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, at the last moment, refuses to attend a ministerial meeting in Dubrovnik, despite many saying that it would have been a good time to try to break up the ties between neighboring countries. Croatian interior minister Vlaho Orepić has recently diluted the controversy by claiming that the proportion of ethnic Serbs in Vukovar is lower than the 34 percent indicated by the latest census.
Statue erected over ambassador murderer
A statue is erected in the coastal town of Draga over Miro Barešić, who murdered Yugoslavia’s ambassador to Stockholm in 1971 and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment in Sweden. Two ministers attend. Barešić, a hero in right-wing nationalist circles in Croatia, died in the 1991 war.
New leader for HDZ
The lawyer and former diplomat Andrej Plenković are elected new party leader for the right-wing nationalist HDZ. He is the only candidate for the post and succeeds Tomislav Karamarko, who resigned in June, and is expected to focus mainly on improving the economy but also moving the party more towards the middle.
Karamako resigns as HDZ leader
At a press conference, Tomislav Karamarko announces his resignation as party leader of the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ.
Croatian-Serbian agreement signed
After first meeting on a border bridge between Croatia and Serbia, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić continue to the city of Subotica in northern Serbia, where they sign a six-point agreement on better relations between the countries. This has been quite shaky in recent years, not least since Croatia, as a member of the EU, first set the bar for Serbia to open Chapter 23 in its membership negotiations with the EU, which deals, among other things, with the treatment of minorities and cooperation with the War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. In the agreement, the two leaders declare that they want to put all disagreements behind them.
The government falls after a declaration of confidence
After a long debate in Parliament, 125 members vote for the resignation of Prime Minister Tihomir Oresković. Only 15 MEPs, including 12 from the smaller Most Party, support Oresković. He himself has previously demanded that the two Deputy Prime Ministers resign, in order to avoid new elections.
Statement of disbelief against Oresković
Prime Minister Oresković’s way of dealing with the dissent between his two deputy prime ministers causes HDZ to file a statement of no confidence in him. However, some HDZ members were hesitant about the declaration of disbelief as they feared that it would lead to new elections and that the party would then lose its majority in parliament.
New trial against Sanader
A new trial is being opened against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, as well as against three other high-ranking representatives of HDZ, the party itself and the head of Fimi Media, a company through which misappropriated state funds must have been laundered. All of them have been convicted in a previous trial, however, annulled by the Constitutional Court (see October 2015).
In Zagreb, around 20,000 people are protesting against the government’s efforts to reform the education system to modernize it and make it more like education in other EU countries. The working group, which was appointed by the former Social Democratic government, accuses the current HDZ-led government of having too much wanted to control the work and demands the departure of the Minister of Education. Demonstrations are held simultaneously in several other cities in Croatia and also among Croats abroad. More protests will follow later this month.
Statement of disbelief against Karamako
After it emerged that Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamako’s wife, Ana Sarić Karamako, received just over EUR 60,000 for consultancy work for the Hungarian energy company MOL, a company with which Croatia has a dispute, the Social Democratic opposition SDP submits a statement of confidence to Karamako in Parliament.
Economic reform package
The government presents a series of reforms aimed at boosting the economy. Among other things, one should introduce tax relief and other simplifications to attract investors, as well as a new pay system for government employees where “entrepreneurial spirit” should pay off. In addition, a property tax is introduced and the retirement age is increased from 65 to 67 years, the latter only in 2028.
Criticism of the government’s media policy
Opposition media accuses controversial Minister of Culture Zlatko Hasanbegović, a historian far out on the right, for stripping state funds to media from the Left Opposition and NGOs. The European Commission and a number of diplomats have also expressed concern about the Minister of Culture’s way of quickly seeking to change the media climate in the country.
14th of March
British successor Charles and his wife Camilla come to Croatia as their first stop on an official tour of the Balkans. The purpose of the visit is to promote peace and reconciliation in the region.
The Balkan route is closed
After the EU and Turkey have reached a proposal for agreement on the refugee issue and Slovenia has closed its borders to anyone except those who have valid travel documents, seek international protection or have humanitarian reasons, Croatia is following along with Serbia and Macedonia. This means that the so-called Balkan route for migrants is closed, and thousands of refugees are at risk of being trapped in Greece or forced to seek alternative, more dangerous routes into Europe.
Agreements should block out migrants
Foreign and home ministers from nine Balkan countries, including Croatia, as well as Austria, enter into an agreement to coordinate efforts to limit migrant flows, citing security, integration challenges and resource scarcity. Criticism comes from Greece, where many migrants are now getting stuck.
New Middle Right government approved
After several rounds of negotiations, HDZ and Most agreed in December on cooperation, and the president has given the assignment to form government to the party-politically independent company leader Tihomir Oresković, who has lived in Canada for a long time. Parliament now approves the government he has presented. Of the 20 ministerial candidates, six are from Most and the rest are from HDZ. The two party leaders – HDZ Tomislav Karamarko and Mosts Božo Petrov – will become Deputy Prime Ministers.