New president promises better times for Croatia

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New president promises better times for Croatia

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The legal expert and classical music composer elected by Croatian voters on Sunday has said his drive against corruption will lead the country into the European Union within two years.

The choice of Ivo Josipovic as president has already been welcomed by EU leaders.

The bookish intellectual beat the flamboyant Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandic in Sunday’s second round ballot, winning just over 60 percent of the vote.

One Zagreb resident said: “I’m happy a man with a completely pro-European orientation won. And I’m happy for our children even more than for us.”

But another said: “Personally I don’t care, not much will change as he only has limited powers.”

Among those restricted powers is a certain influence over foreign policy. In this respect he will be heavily involved in talks with Brussels. Croatia hopes to wrap up EU membership by 2012.

One condition of this is a crackdown on the corruption that has blighted the country since independence from Yugoslavia 19 years ago.

With 16 percent unemployment and an economy that shrank 6 percent last year, Croatia has much to gain from joining the EU. Josipovic is seen as the safe pair of hands that can make that happen.