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Perspectives of Croatia's new Africa relations as impending member of the Eurozone

Kohnert, Dirk (2022): Perspectives of Croatia's new Africa relations as impending member of the Eurozone.

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Abstract

In July 2020, the EU Parliament voted in favour of Croatia’s application to become the newest member of the eurozone from January 1, 2023. Despite the setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it met all the criteria for adopting the euro, high inflation, and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Croatia’s accession to the euro will be the first significant positive step in the European integration process since Brexit. It may depict perspectives for a further enlargement of the eurozone in the Balkans. The admission will also impact the EU Africa relations. In addition to the close foreign ties with South Africa, Zagreb established diplomatic relations with South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic in 2020. Yet, regarding Croatia’s long-established relations with Africa it is decisive to take account of the lessons learned from its multifaceted African relations history. Croatian explorers like Dragutin Lerman, mostly unknown outside their home-country, had been active in exploring Sub-Saharan African countries in the early 20th century. During the Cold War political and economic relations between Yugoslavia (including Croatia) and the African nonaligned countries improved significantly between 1973 and 1981. Mutual economic cooperation between nonaligned countries had been encouraged to fight ‘underdevelopment’ in Africa. Thus, in 1971, within the framework of industrial cooperation, Yugoslav-Ghanaian joint ventures were established, for example, for forest exploitation and wood processing and for a joint factory for motorcycles and pumps in Ghana. In addition, Yugoslavia was the only non-African country to help fund the Organization of African Unity's (OAU) Liberation Committee, although Zagreb favored bilateral relations with individual liberation movements. However, both Croatia and South Africa faced difficulties during the transition process with the illegal arms trade due to high levels of corruption within the judicial system and police. Also the citizens of both countries lack of trust in the states capacity to impose social control opened the way for organized crime to work with impunity. Criminal groups used patron-client relationships with the citizens of South Africa and Croatia to establish and maintain a level of popular legitimacy that the state lacked.

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