Croatia profile - Timeline

  • Published
Aerial view of ZagrebImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
An aerial view of the Croatian capital, Zagreb

A chronology of key events:

1918 - Croatian national assembly votes to join the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

1921 - A unitary consitution abolishes Croatian automony. The main Croatian Peasant Party campaigns for its restoration.

1929 - The Kingdom is renamed Yugoslavia, and the system of government is further centralised under a royal dictatorship.

1939 - The Croatian Peasant Party negotiates a partial restoration of Croatian autonomy.

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.

Yugoslav federation

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

1967 - Croatian writers demand greater linguistic autonomy, prompting a movement for political, economic and cultural liberalisation.

1971 - Protestors demand greater autonomy in a movement known as the "Croatian Spring". The Yugoslav authorities denounce it as nationalism, arrest students and activists and purge the Croatian Communist Party.

1974 - A new Yugoslav federal constitution meets some of the demands for Croatian autonomy.

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.

1992 - The UN sets up four protected areas in Croatia, with 14,000 UN troops keeping Croats and Serbs apart. Croatia also becomes involved in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (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-Herzegovina.

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.

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

1999 - Franjo Tudjman dies.

2000 January - Parliamentary elections see Franjo Tudjman's HDZ party defeated by a coalition of social democrats and social liberals and Ivica Racan becomes the new prime minister.

2000 February - Stjepan Mesic of the liberal Croatian People's Party is elected president.

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

War crimes charges

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 Arijan Ademi and Ante Gotovina. Gen Ademi voluntarily appears before the tribunal. Gen 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.

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.

2003 October - Croatian parliament votes to create ecological zone in Adriatic prompting objections from Slovenia.

Right wins

2003 December - Ivo Sanader of the right-wing 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.

EU talks

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

Croatia calls for international mediation after Slovene parliament declares ecological zone in the Adriatic with rights to protect and use sea bed.

2005 December - Fugitive Croatian General Ante Gotovina, sought by the Hague tribunal on war crimes charges, is arrested in Spain.

2006 November - European Commission publishes report critical of Croatia's progress towards EU membership. It says more needs to be done to tackle corruption and intolerance of non-Croats.

2007 October - Work begins on coastal Peljesac bridge which will allow motorists to skirt Bosnian territory, drawing criticism from Bosnia.

2007 November - Parliamentary elections. Ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) wins the most seats but needs coalition partners to secure a majority.

2008 January - Parliament approves Prime Minister Ivo Sanader's new HDZ-led coalition government. Includes first Serb in key position: deputy PM Slobodan Uzelac.

Generals on trial

2008 March - Croatian ex-generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac go on trial at Hague war crimes tribunal on charges of killing Croatian Serbs in 1990s. They deny the charges.

2008 April - Nato summit in Bucharest invites Croatia to join alliance.

2008 October - Government announces major drive against organised crime following a series of killings linked to the mafia.

2009 February - Slovenia threatens to block neighbouring Croatia from joining the EU in a continuing dispute over borders.

Nato membership

2009 April - Croatia joins Nato.

2009 July - In a surprise move, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader announces that he will resign and withdraw from active politics. Parliament approves Mr Sanader's deputy, Jadranka Kosor, as prime minister.

2009 November - Slovenia lifts block on Croatia's EU membership talks after the two countries sign deal allowing international mediators to resolve their border dispute. Croatian EU membership talks resume.

2010 January - Ivo Josipovic of the opposition Social Democrats wins presidential election.

2010 June - Slovenia votes in a referendum to back international arbitration on the border dispute.


2010 July - Visit of President Josipovic to Belgrade signals thawing of relations with Serbia.

2010 November - Zagreb court convicts six men for mafia-style murder of investigative journalist Ivo Pukanic in October 2010.

In what is seen as significant act of reconciliation between Croatia and Serbia, Serbian President Boris Tadic visits Vukovar, where he apologises for 1991 massacre of 260 Croat civilians by Serb forces.

2011 April - Two senior Croatian generals - Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac - are convicted for war crimes against Serbs in 1995 by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.

2011 May - Croatia and Slovenia officially submit their Piran Bay border dispute to UN arbitration.

2011 June - Croatia successfully completes EU accession negotiations, putting it on track to become the 28th member state in mid-2013.

2011 July - Goran Hadzic, commander of Serb rebel forces during Croatia's 1991-1995 civil war, goes on trial on war crimes charges at The Hague.

2011 November - Trial of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on charges of corruption begins in Zagreb. Mr Sanader denies the charges against him.

2011 December - Parliamentary elections. Centre-left opposition bloc led by Social Democrats ousts the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which has been in power since 2003.

Croatia signs EU accession treaty paving the way for it to achieve full membership in July 2013.

EU referendum

2012 January - Croatian voters back joining the European Union in a referendum by a margin of two to one, albeit on a low turnout of about 44%.

2012 June - Serbian court imprisons 14 former soldiers and paramilitaries over the killing of 70 Croat civilians in the eastern village of Lovas in 1991.

2012 November - Convictions of Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac for war crimes are overturned by an appeals court in the Hague.

A court in Croatia sentences former prime minister Ivo Sanader to 10 years in prison for taking bribes.

2013 March - The European Commission gives Croatia the green light to join the EU, but says it still needs to tackle corruption and organised crime.

2013 April - Croatia elects its first members of the European Parliament in ahead of joining the EU on 1 July.

EU membership

2013 July - Croatia takes its place as the 28th member of the EU.

2014 January - EU finance ministers launch proceedings to force Croatia to halve its budget deficit and bring it under the bloc's permitted limit.

2014 March - A Croatian court sentences Ivo Sanader to nine years in jail for siphoning millions in state money, in his second corruption conviction. His former governing and current opposition Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party is also found guilty in the case.

2014 April - Croatia extradites former Yugoslav spy chief Zdravko Mustac to Germany, where he faces charge for the 1983 killing of a dissident.

2015 January - Moderate conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kiratovic is elected Croatia's first female president.

2015 May - Parliament passes a law to compensate victims of sexual violence during the war of independence in the 1990s.

2015 November - General election fails to produce outright winner. Following protracted talks, the non-partisan technocrat Tihomir Oreskovic becomes prime minister in January 2016.

2016 June - The government falls when Mr Oreskovic and his cabinet fail to win a confidence vote, following a quarrel between the main coalition partners.

2016 July - Parliament is dissolved and fresh elections are called for September.

2016 September - Elections are held, centre-right nationalist Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party wins the largest number of seats.

2016 October - Centre-right coalition government headed by HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic, takes office.

2017 September - Ethnic-Serb former paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic is convicted of war crimes and jailed for torturing and killing prisoners during the conflict in the early 1990s.

2020 July - Andrej Plenkovic wins second term as prime minister.