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Ivo Sanader

Ivo Sanader Croatian politician, former Prime Minister

Croatian politician, former Prime Minister
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Croatian politician, former Prime Minister
A.K.A. Санадер, Иво
Countries Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Croatia
Occupations Politician Journalist
Type Journalism
Gender male
Birth 8 June 1953 (Split)
Star sign GeminiGemini
Politics , Croatian Democratic Union
Family
Spouse: Mirjana Sanader
Children: Petra Sanader
Education University of Innsbruck
Ivo Sanader
The details
Biography

Ivo Sanader (born on 8 June 1953) is a Croatian politician who served as the Prime Minister of Croatia from 2003 to 2009. He is to date the longest-serving prime Minister since independence, holding the office for over 5 and a half years before resigning in July 2009. He is the only Croatian Prime Minister to serve more than one term, winning general elections in 2003 and 2007. Along with Ivica Račan he is one of only two Prime Ministers to have been at the head of more than one government cabinet, chairing his first cabinet from December 2003 until January 2008 and his second from January 2008 until his resignation in July 2009.

Sanader obtained his education in comparative literature in Austria, where he also worked as a journalist, in marketing, publishing and as an entrepreneur. In the 1990s, he was briefly the intendant of the Croatian National Theatre in Split before becoming Minister for Science and Technology as a member of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in the Cabinet of Hrvoje Šarinić in 1992. In 1993 he moved into diplomacy and served two terms as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Following the death of Franjo Tuđman, Sanader was elected leader of the HDZ party in 2000 and again in 2002, and led the party to victory in the 2003 and 2007 election, becoming Croatia's Prime Minister. In June 2009, Sanader abruptly resigned his post, leaving scarce explanation for his actions and disappearing from public life for a while. In January 2010 Sanader tried to stage a political comeback within the HDZ, but was ejected from party membership.

In December 2010, Croatian authorities indicted him in two high-profile corruption cases. Sanader fled the country but was apprehended in Austria and then extradited to Croatia in July 2011. In November 2012, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a first instance verdict, later reduced to ​8 12 years. However, his sentence was annulled by Croatia's Constitutional Court in 2015. With the exception of numerous Croatian officials who were sentenced to imprisonment during the existence of the socialist Yugoslavia, he is the first Croatian head of government and highest ranking state official to be tried and sentenced to a jail term.

On October 22, 2018, Sanader was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for war profiteering and must return $570,000 in kickbacks from Hypo Bank.

Early life

Ivo Sanader was born in Split to a poor, religious, working-class family with four siblings. As his family was financially unable to educate all five children, his mother asked the rector of the Archbishopric Classical Gymnasium to accept Ivo as a student. After completing high school, Sanader spent one year in Rome studying philosophy. Following his return from Rome he met Mirjana Šarić, whom he married in 1978.

After their wedding, Ivo and Mirjana, and Ivo's younger brother Miro left Split for Innsbruck, Austria. His wife studied archaeology, while Ivo studied comparative literature and Romance languages at the University of Innsbruck. During that time, Sanader also reported for the Zagreb sport newspaper Sportske novosti.

In 1982, Sanader received his PhD degree, and returned to Croatia (then Yugoslavia) with his wife. He found a job in the marketing department of Dalmacijaturist (Dalmatia Tourist), for a brief period, followed by a lengthy period at the publishing house Logos from 1983, initially as a program editor. In 1988 he became a chief editor, at one time working on the magazine Mogućnosti (Possibilities). His career at the publishing house was later terminated. At that time, his wife also received a notice of termination from her workplace.

Sanader decided to return to Austria with his family, where he co-founded two businesses, one in 1989 which was liquidated by a court in 1992, while the other existed between 1986 and 2001. Sanader obtained a B.A. in Romance languages and comparative literature from Innsbruck University in Austria.

Apart from his native Croatian, he is fluent in English, German, French, and Italian.

Political career

Beginnings (1990s–2000)

Unlike many Croatian political figures of Sanader's generation, he was not actively involved in politics in his younger years – neither as a member of the League of Communists of Croatia (Croatia's party which formed the single bloc which governed Yugoslavia), nor as a dissident in exile.

At the end of the 1980s, as a multi-party system was returning to Yugoslavia, he founded the first branch of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in Austria, and met Franjo Tuđman, who persuaded him to return to Split, over the objections of his wife who saw war in Croatia looming. His first public office was intendant of the Croatian National Theatre in Split.

In 1992 he was elected as an HDZ deputy to the lower house of the Croatian parliament, and became Minister of Science and Technology (1992–1993). From 1993 to 1995 and 1996 to 2000, he was a Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, overseeing the termination of required visas for Croatian citizens who traveled to Greece. He also used his negotiation skills to bring people to the Croatian Democratic Union from other Croatian parliamentary parties.

At the end of November 1995, he became Chief of Staff of the President of Croatia's office and General Secretary of the Croatian National Security and Defense Council (VONS) after Hrvoje Šarinić was released from his duty. In January 1996 he became a member of the Council for Cooperation between Croatia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During his second term as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs he worked to bring Croatia and Israel together. Himself, Hrvoje Šarinić and Eytan Bentsur, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Israeli government, met in Budapest in 1997, at which point diplomatic relations between Croatia and Israel were established.

Leader of Opposition (2000–03)

In 2000, following Tuđman's death, HDZ suffered defeat in a parliamentary election. Furthermore, their candidate Mate Granić also failed to enter the second round of the presidential election. Granić then left to form the Democratic Centre party hoping to attract moderates from the HDZ. Inner-party election within the HDZ ensued in April that year and Sanader emerged victorious as a compromise candidate.

Initially, Sanader criticized the unpopular International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indictments against Croatian Army generals. In 2001, he took part in a massive rally protesting a war crimes indictment against general Mirko Norac. Sanader also criticised Ivica Račan and his cabinet's stance towards the ICTY. He gradually began to distance the party and himself from the protests, softening his criticism towards the government.

Sanader focused his efforts on transforming the HDZ into a modern pro-European right-of-center party. However, his course was challenged by the more conservative wing of the party led by Ivić Pašalić. The ensuing leadership struggle culminated at the 2002 party convention. Sanader, who was supported by Vladimir Šeks and Branimir Glavaš, managed to win his second mandate. Pašalić left the party to form his Croatian Bloc, but failed to draw many of his former supporters from the HDZ.

Sanader was later accused by Ivan Drmić, a former member of the Croatian Democratic Union, for rigging the presidential election at the 5th convention of the Croatian Democratic Union. Spokesman for the Croatian Democratic Union Ratko Maček said such accusations "belong in the anthology of political stupidity."

Sanader was able to concentrate on defeating Ivica Račan and his left-of-centre coalition at the 2003 parliamentary elections. HDZ won the election, but did not win an absolute majority in Sabor.

First term as Prime Minister (2003–07)

Ivo Sanader with German chancellor Angela Merkel and Finnish prime minister Jyrki Katainen at EPP Summit on 24 March 2007

After the victory of his Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) the President of the Republic named Sanader the Prime Minister-designate on 9 December 2003. In the post-election negotiations Sanader ensured the support of ethnic minority representatives, nominally left-wing Croatian Party of Pensioners and the Independent Democratic Serb Party. When the Croatian Parliament subsequently gave its consent by 88 votes (out of 152) on 23 December 2003, Sanader was formally appointed.

Sanader at a meeting with United States President George W. Bush at the White House in October 2006.

The Sanader government's main foreign goal was Croatia's entry into the European Union and NATO. As a result of the successful implementation of the Association Agreement – signed with the European Union in 2001 – Croatia did become an official candidate for entry into the EU. Sanader's HDZ also sought to establish better relations with minority parties and to promote minority rights. Amongst other factors contributing to the positive opinion of the European Commission and the European Council regarding Croatia's bid to become an EU member were Croatia's cooperation with the ICTY, continued economic growth and the country's compliance with political and economic criteria established by the 1993 Copenhagen European Council.

Sanader was the last statesman to visit Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, in February 2005, a few weeks before his death on 2 April 2005.

In October 2005, following the formal start of EU accession negotiations, opinion polls showed Sanader to be the most popular Croatian politician.

Škare Ožbolt reported that Sanader possessed a collection of wrist watches worth in excess of €150,000 which he had not declared as assets. Former Minister of Justice Vesna Škare-Ožbolt in the Sanader government was the one who reported Sanader to a resolution council for conflict of interests.

As Prime Minister, Sanader had close relations with other moderate conservative politicians in Europe: including former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, and Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern. The cabinet saw some changes during Sanader's term, notably the departure of the foreign minister Miomir Žužul who was accused of conflict of interest. His government was challenged by the rising tide of Euroscepticism in the country.

In July 2006, Sanader was named in the "Verona Affair", accused by the opposition in the Croatian parliament for fixing the sale of pharmaceutical company Pliva to Barr Pharmaceuticals from the US. The accusations were denied and never proved.

Nacional, an independent political weekly, reported Sanader was a part of two bankrupt businesses in Austria, and received bribes in 1995 and 1996 from a tycoon amounting to 800,000 DEM.

Second term as Prime Minister (2007–09)

Speaker of Croatian Parliament Luka Bebić (left) and President of Croatia Stjepan Mesić (center) with Ivo Sanader at NATO flag-raising ceremony in front of building of Ministry of Defence of Croatia on 7 April 2009

After the closely contested Croatian parliamentary election, 2007, and the first ever situation of ambiguity on who gets the mandate to form a government, Sanader emerged as the winner when President Stipe Mesić gave him his second mandate, though this time in a coalition with HSS and HSLS.

Owing in part to the global recession that set in during Sanader's term, Croatia's economic growth stalled and foreign direct investments slowed down. While displaying symptoms of economic decline shared by larger nations, Croatia's decline during Sanader's term was amplified in comparison with the fortunes of Serbia and next door Montenegro – who gained greater investments due to major reforms. Under Sanader, judicial reforms in Croatia stopped and the land registry issue was not resolved. Over 1.3 million court cases (in a country of 4.1 million people) were yet to be resolved in 2009.

Croatia was expected to complete negotiations with the EU in 2009. However, the negotiations were stalled for 10 months due to Slovenia's blockade of Croatia's EU accession in December 2008. On 1 July 2009, Sanader announced his resignation as the Prime Minister of Croatia and President of Croatian Democratic Union, as well as his complete withdrawal from all active politics, adding that he does not intend to return. At his press conference in Zagreb, Sanader remarked, "There is always a time in life for a new beginning. Such a moment has come and now it's time for others to take over." According to BBC News, the announcement "came as a surprise", as Croatian media had quite recently named Sanader as a potential candidate for the 2010 presidential election. He announced that his prime minister-designate would be deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor. The Croatian Parliament accepted his resignation on 2 July 2009 and informed the President. Sanader was elected Honorary President of HDZ for life.

Departure and return to politics (2009–10)

At the September 2009 Global Creative Economic Summit, Sanader discussed Croatia's shift from a heavily controlled economy to a bustling "knowledge-based" economy. According to Sanader, fostering the "competitiveness in everyday life" played an important role in this process.

On 3 January 2010, contrary to his earlier statements (1 July 2009), Sanader announced he would be returning to a more active role in politics, stating that his decision to withdraw was a mistake, and that the HDZ is a "winning party and not a party that wins 12% of the vote", a remark made in connection with the first round of the presidential election held one week before. He was supported by a dozen HDZ MPs, including Luka Bebić, but none of the members of the Government. Several of those MPs later disclaimed any association with Sanader and claimed they were misled.

On 4 January 2010, following an entire day of meetings of HDZ leadership, Ivo Sanader was expelled from the Croatian Democratic Union. Of 22 members of the party presidency, 16 voted for expulsion, three were against (Luka Bebić, Mario Zubović and Damir Polančec) and two abstained (Bianca Matković and Petar Selem). Sanader himself was not present at the meeting.

In October 2010, Sanader reactivated his parliamentary seat and regained parliamentary immunity.

Arrest in Austria

On 9 December 2010, he was spotted crossing the border into Slovenia, driven by his younger daughter Bruna shortly before the Croatian parliament voted to remove his immunity from prosecution by the Croatian Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK). The next day the Croatian police issued an arrest warrant and applied to Interpol requesting his arrest to face charges of corruption. He was arrested near Salzburg, Austria on 10 December 2010. Croatian authorities froze his assets and bank accounts, and formally applied for extradition on 13 December.

Austrian authorities, including a Carinthian parliamentary committee inquiring into the more recent Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International scandal, have questioned Sanader while in custody, while USKOK expanded its investigation of Sanader to include alleged bribes by the Hypo Bank in the 1990s.

Sanader is alleged to have received nearly $695,000 (£432,000) for arranging a loan from the Austrian Hypo Bank in 1995, launching accusations of war profiteering. and of receiving 10 million euros in bribes from the CEO of the Hungarian oil company MOL, Zsolt Hernádi, to secure MOL a dominant position in the Croatian oil company INA.

Extradition and trials (2011–present)

Sanader was extradited by Austria on 18 July 2011. He was transferred to Remetinec prison in Zagreb.

At his first court hearing on 28 October, he complained of heart problems, and he stated that he did not even know he was being taken to court. After hearing this, the judge decided to reschedule, and Sanader was taken to the hospital. His rescheduled court hearing took place in December 2011 and he was released on bail of $2.2 million on 16 December 2011. In January 2012, it was announced that Sanader was facing a new set of corruption charges. USKOK included Sanader in its investigation into Croatia's state-owned electric company HEP's financial irregularities, including losses of $100 million, based on a witness statement that Sanader accepted a bribe to ensure lower electricity prices.

In May 2012, it was announced that Sanader could be indicted again on corruption offences. It was alleged that he could be charged for his involvement in arranging the sale of electricity to Croatian petrochemical company Dioki Group at prices below market, which damaged the state electricity company HEP by several million Kunas. The former CEO and owner of Dioki, Ivan Mravak and Robert Jezic could also face charges.

In September 2012, A fifth indictment was filed against Ivo Sanader for damaging the state budget by 26 million kuna (3.6 million euro). Prosecutors claimed that the damage was done by selling a building built by Fiolic's firm to the Ministry of Regional Development for more than twice the price that the building was actually worth.

According to calculations of Croatian news site Politika Plus from 2012, total damage done to the budget due to corruption scandals involving Sanader counts at least 207,2 million kuna

On 20 November 2012 Sanader was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a first-degree verdict. He was the highest official in Croatia to be convicted of corruption. Sanader denied wrongdoing and stated that his trial was politically motivated. The judge, Ivan Turudić, said that Sanader had disgraced Croatia, adding that he had used his office for his own personal enrichment and not for the common good. Sanader was transferred from the court to the Remetinec prison.

In June 2014 the Supreme Court of Croatia confirmed the 2012 verdict, but reduced Sanader's prison sentence to ​8 12 years. On that occasion, president Ivo Josipović described Sanader's involvement in MOL's acquisition of INA as "high treason".

In 2015, the verdict was quashed by the Constitutional Court based on procedural errors made during the trial. He was released after spending nearly 5 years both in custody and prison. He is set to stand a retrial. In 2017, he was sentenced to ​4 12 in another case, yet to be confirmed by the upper courts.

Honors

Award or decoration Country Awarded by Date Place
Army-HRV-OF-05.svg
Honorary Colonel of Armed Forces of Croatia  Croatia Franjo Tuđman 1993 Zagreb
DE-BY Der Bayerische Verdienstorden BAR.png Bavarian Order of Merit  Germany Edmund Stoiber 2007 Munich

Revoked

On 15 July 2014 President Ivo Josipović revoked all Sanader's national decorations following the final judgment by the Supreme Court by which he was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 8 years and 6 months due to his corruption while he served as Prime Minister.

  • Ribbon of the Order of Duke Trpimir.png Order of Duke Trpimir
  • Ribbon of a Grand Order of Queen Jelena.png Grand Order of Queen Jelena
  • Ribbon of an Order of the Croatian Trefoil.png Order of the Croatian Trefoil
  • Ribbon of a Commemorative Medal of the Homeland's Gratitude.png Homeland's Gratitude Medal
  • Order of Ante Starčević
  • Order of Danica Hrvatska with the face of Marko Marulić
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Sources
References
http://austrianindependent.com/news/Politics/2011-07-19/8464/Austria_extradites_Sanader
http://daily.tportal.hr/164081/Prosecution-witness-testifies-in-Sanader-trial.html
http://data.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb12537727k
http://euobserver.com/enlargement/28402
http://hidran.hidra.hr/hidrarad/rh/rh610.htm
http://hidran.hidra.hr/hidrarad/rh/rh69.htm
http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-40733720090701
http://isni.org/isni/0000000081496087
http://mup.hr/79554/3.aspx
http://narodne-novine.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeni/2014_07_84_1660.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8128746.stm
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