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8371 - Timeline: Croatia   26/10/2005 - 18:18:02
A chronology of key events:

1918 - Croatia joins the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

Capital's old town boasts Gothic and Baroque buildings
Population: 692,000
1929 - The Kingdom becomes Yugoslavia.

1941 - Nazi Germany invades. A 'Greater Croatia' is formed, also comprising most of Bosnia and western Serbia. A fascist puppet government is installed under Ante Pavelic. The regime acts brutally against Serbs and Jews as it seeks to create a Catholic, all-Croat republic. Hundreds of thousands lose their lives.

The Yugoslav federation

1945 - After a bitter resistance campaign by partisans under Tito, Croatia becomes one of the six constituent republics of the Yugoslav socialist federation. Croatia is multi-ethnic.

1980 - Tito dies. The slow disintegration of Yugoslavia begins as individual republics assert their desire for independence.

1989 - Collapse of communism in eastern Europe leads to rise in support for parties with a nationalist programme.

1990 - First free elections in Croatia for more than 50 years. The communists lose to the conservative, nationalist HDZ led by Franjo Tudjman.

Independence and war

1991 - Croatia declares its independence. Croatian Serbs in the east of the country expel Croats with the aid of the Yugoslav army. By the end of the year, nearly one-third of Croatian territory is under Serb control.

Vukovar, devastated after siege by Serb forces

1992 - The UN sets up 4 protected areas in Croatia, with 14,000 UN troops keeping Croats and Serbs apart. Croatia also becomes involved in the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina (1992-5), supporting the Bosnian Croats against the Bosnian Serbs, then against the Bosniaks (Muslims). Franjo Tudjman is elected president of Croatia.

1995 - Croat forces retake three of the four areas created by the UN. Croatian Serbs flee to Bosnia and Serbia. Tudjman is one of the signatories of the Dayton peace accords ending the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Post-war Croatia

1996 - Croatia restores diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia. Croatia joins Council of Europe.

1997 - Tudjman re-elected as president. The EU decides not to invite Croatia to start membership talks, criticising the Tudjman regime's authoritarian tendencies.

Ultra-nationalist president's rule was highly autocratic

1998 - Croatia resumes control over the fourth UN area, Eastern Slavonia.

1999 - Tudjman dies.

2000 - Parliamentary elections in January see Tudjman's HDZ party defeated. The social democrats and social liberals win at the head of a coalition. The new prime minister is Ivica Racan. In February Stjepan Mesic of the Croatian People's Party wins the presidency. He says he wants Croatia to join Nato and the EU.

2001 February/March - After two weeks on the run during which nationalists organise demonstrations in his support, General Mirko Norac gives himself up to a Croatian court on the understanding that he will not be extradited to face the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He is charged with killing Serb civilians in the Croatian city of Gospic in 1991.

2001 July - Prime Minister Racan survives confidence vote in parliament brought by nationalists opposed to his decision to comply with a request from The Hague tribunal for the extradition of generals Ademi and Gotovina. General Ademi becomes the first person from Croatia to face charges in The Hague by voluntarily appearing before the tribunal. General Gotovina goes into hiding.

2001 September - The Hague tribunal indicts former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war in Croatia in the early 1990s.

2001 December - Yugoslavia returns art works, including Orthodox icons, looted after the fall of the city of Vukovar 10 years earlier.

Historic Adriatic town plays key role in Croatian tourism industry

2002 April - Foreign Minister Tonino Picula visits Belgrade for talks with his Yugoslav counterpart, the first such visit since independence.

2002 July - PM Racan resigns as infighting within the coalition paralyses economic reform. President Mesic asks him to form a new government.

2002 September - Under pressure from nationalists, government declines to hand over retired Gen Janko Bobetko, indicted for war crimes by The Hague tribunal. Health grounds are cited.

2003 February - Croatia submits formal application for EU membership.

2003 March - Gen Mirko Norac, seen by many Croats as a war hero, sentenced to 12 years for killing of several dozen Serb civilians in 1991.

2003 April - Death of Gen Bobetko ends controversy surrounding his extradition to The Hague.

Accordion player in Zagreb
Music-making in Ban Jelacic Square, part of Zagreb's old town

2003 December - Ivo Sanader of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) becomes prime minister in a minority government following his party's success in elections the previous month.

2004 June - Wartime Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic jailed for 13 years by Hague tribunal for his part in war crimes against non-Serbs in self-proclaimed Krajina Serb republic where he was leader in the early 1990s.

2004 December - EU agrees to start accession talks with Croatia in March 2005.

2005 January - Incumbent President Stjepan Mesic wins second term.

2005 March - EU delays talks on Croatia's membership because of failure to arrest Gen Ante Gotovina, who is wanted by the Hague tribunal on war crimes charges.

2005 October - Green light given for EU accession talks to go ahead again even though Gen Gotovina remains at large.

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