International Commission on the Balkans, a non-governmental body of
experts led by Giuliano Amato, a former Italian prime minister,
published a report in April that gloomily reflected:
region is as close to failure as it is to success. For the moment,
the wars are over but the smell of violence still hangs heavy in the
air... Economic growth in these territories is low or non existent;
unemployment is high; corruption is pervasive; and the public is
pessimistic and distrustful towards its nascent democratic
Croatia exaggerated the depth of its transformation for foreign
consumption, and perhaps ended up believing some of its own
publicity. [...] Croatia can scarcely afford to drag its feet. The
job of reforming its public adminis-tration and its economy looks
like at least five years' hard work. The state controls too much and
delivers too little. Public spending accounts for fully half of GDP.
Public debt rose from 30% of GDP in 1955 to 55% in 2003. External
debt doubled from 41% of GDP in 1977 to 82% in 2003. Key health
indicators are far below EU averages. Half the beneficiaries of
social assistance are able-bodied but unemployed. Only 60% of adults
have had more than eight years of schooling.
solution proposed by the Amato commission mixes practicality with
romance, optimism and desperation. Probably all those things are
needed in equal measure if the Balkans are ever to be helped to help
the Balkans, The Economist, June 25, 2005.