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Ivo Sanader

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Ivo Sanader

Ivo Sanader
8th[a] Prime Minister of Croatia
In office
23 December 2003 – 6 July 2009
President Stjepan Mesić
Deputy Đurđa Adlešič
Jadranka Kosor
Slobodan Uzelac
Damir Polančec
Preceded by Ivica Račan
Succeeded by Jadranka Kosor
Member of Parliament
In office
13 October 2010 – 22 December 2011
Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor
Constituency X electoral district
In office
2 February 2000 – 22 December 2003
Prime Minister Ivica Račan
Constituency X electoral district
2nd Leader of the Opposition
In office
30 April 2000 – 23 December 2003
Preceded by Vladimir Šeks (Acting)
Succeeded by Ivica Račan
President of the
Croatian Democratic Union
In office
30 April 2000 – 4 July 2009
Preceded by Vladimir Šeks (Acting)
Succeeded by Jadranka Kosor
Personal details
Born Ivica Sanader
(1953-06-08) 8 June 1953
Split, PR Croatia, FPR Yugoslavia
Political party Independent (2010–present)
Other political
Croatian Democratic Union (1989–2010)
Spouse(s) Mirjana Šarić[1]
Children Bruna Sanader
Petra Sanader
Alma mater University of Innsbruck
Occupation Writer, historian, politician
Religion Roman Catholicism
^a Counting from the 1990 Croatian parliamentary election. 20th Croatian prime minister overall.

Ivo Sanader (Croatian pronunciation: ; born Ivica Sanader[2] on 8 June 1953) was a Croatian politician who served as Prime Minister of Croatia from 2003 to 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.


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
    • Beginnings (1990s–2000) 2.1
    • Leader of Opposition (2000–03) 2.2
    • First term as Prime Minister (2003–07) 2.3
    • Second term as Prime Minister (2007–09) 2.4
    • Departure and return to politics (2009–10) 2.5
    • Arrest in Austria 2.6
    • Extradition and trials (2011–present) 2.7
  • Honors 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

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.[3] Following his return from Rome he met Mirjana Šarić, whom he married in 1978.[4]

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.[5] 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.[4][6]

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 Head of the President of Croatia's office and general secretary of the Croatian National Security and Defence 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,[7] 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.[8]

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.[4] 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.[9] Spokesman for the Croatian Democratic Union Ratko Maček said such accusations "belong in the anthology of political stupidity."[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

In October 2005, following the formal start of EU accession negotiations, opinion polls showed Sanader to be the most popular Croatian politician.[13]

Škare Ožbolt reported that Sanader possessed a collection of wrist watches worth in excess of €150,000 which he had not declared as assets.[14] 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.[14]

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.[15] The accusations were denied and never proved.[16]

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.[17]

Second term as Prime Minister (2007–09)

Speaker of Croatian Parliament Luka Bebić and President of Croatia Stjepan Mesić 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.[18][19]

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.[20] 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."[21] 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.[22] He announced that his prime minister-designate would be deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.[21][22] 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.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

On 4 January 2010, following an entire day of meetings of HDZ leadership, Ivo Sanader was expulsed from the Croatian Democratic Union. Of 22 members of the party presidency, 16 voted for ejection, 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.[26]

In October 2010, Sanader reactivated his parliamentary seat and regained parliamentary immunity.[27]

Arrest in Austria

On 9 December 2010, he was spotted crossing the border into USKOK). The next day the Croatian police issued an arrest warrant[29] and applied to Interpol requesting his arrest to face charges of corruption.[30] He was arrested near Salzburg, Austria on 10 December 2010.[31] Croatian authorities froze his assets and bank accounts, and formally applied for extradition on 13 December.[32]

Austrian authorities, including a Carinthian parliamentary committee inquiring into the more recent Hypo Group Alpe Adria scandal, have questioned Sanader while in custody,[33] while USKOK expanded its investigation of Sanader to include alleged bribes by the Hypo Bank in the 1990s.[34]

Sanader is alleged to have received nearly $695,000 (£432,000) for arranging a loan from the Austrian Hypo Bank in 1995,[35] launching accusations of war profiteering.[36] 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.[36]

Extradition and trials (2011–present)

Sanader was extradited by Austria on 18 July 2011.[37] He was transferred to Remetinec prison in Zagreb.[37][38]

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.[39] 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.[40]

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.[41]

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.[42]

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.[43][44] Sanader denied wrongdoing and stated that his trial was politically motivated.[45] 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.[46] On that occasion, president Ivo Josipović described Sanader's involvement in MOL's acquisition of INA as "high treason".[47]


See also


  1. ^ Plamenko Cvitić; Orhidea Gaura (10 December 2010). "Kako se kućio odbjegli premijer" [How the runaway prime minister built his estate] (in Croatian). Zagreb:  
  2. ^ Prime Minister Earned His Doctoral Degree as Ivica
  3. ^ Ivo Sanader biodata,; accessed 28 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "Ivo Sanader". (in Croatian). Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Robert Bajruši (16 January 2007). "Sanader's Austrian Affairs".  
  6. ^ "Životopis predsjednika hrvatske Vlade Ive Sanadera". (in Croatian). 23 December 2003. Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Eytan Bentsur".  
  8. ^ Prime Minister Ivo Sanader profile,; accessed 28 April 2015.(Croatian)
  9. ^ Marković, Stjepan (23 November 2006). "Drmić: Krao sam glasove za Sanadera" [Drmić: I stole votes on behalf of Sanader].  
  10. ^ "Maček: Drmićev istup ulazi u antologiju političke gluposti" (PDF).  
  11. ^ "Deveta vlada" (in Croatian). Croatian Information-Documentation Referral Agency. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Croatian prime minister asks Vatican for help in pushing for EU membership talks". The America's Intelligence Wire. 22 February 2005. 
  13. ^ "Croatian prime minister resigns". News Article BBC. EU Observer. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Ćustić, Marko (9 January 2007). "All the Premier's watches".  
  15. ^ Barković, Neven (5 September 2006). "Zašto je Sanaderu put u Veronu bio važniji od proslave Dana državnosti u Vukovaru?".  
  16. ^ "Premijer Sanader: U Veronu sam išao na poziv organizatora" (in Croatian).  
  17. ^ Bajruši, Robert (16 January 2007). "Sanaderovi austrijski poslovi" [Sanader's Austrian businesses].  
  18. ^ "A sada koalicijski sporazum i sastavljanje vlade".  
  19. ^ "Deseta vlada" (in Croatian). Croatian Information-Documentation Referral Agency. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  20. ^ "Sanader dao ostavku na mjesto premijera i predsjednika stranke".  
  21. ^ a b Ilic, Igor (1 July 2009). "Croatia's PM Sanader resigns, quits politics".  
  22. ^ a b "Croatia's PM Sanader steps down".  
  23. ^ A Celebration of Innovation 2009 Global Creative Leadership Summit.
  24. ^ "Sanader: Odluka da se povučem iz aktivne politike bila je pogreška".  
  25. ^ "Predsjedništvo HDZ-a izbacilo Sanadera iz stranke!".  
  26. ^ "Kosor potvrdila: Sanader izbrisan iz HDZ-a!". (in Croatian). 3 January 2010. 
  27. ^ "Sanader: Situacija me natjerala da aktiviram saborski mandat".  
  28. ^ "Odazvat ću se pozivu Uskoka, Bruna Sanader se vratila u Zagreb". 12 December 2010. 
  29. ^ Arrest warrant for Ivo Sanader, Ministry of Internal Affairs
  30. ^ "Croatia issues warrant for arrest of ex-PM Sanader". BBC News. 10 December 2010. 
  31. ^ Croatian ex-PM Ivo Sanader arrested in Austria, BBC News; accessed 28 April 2015.
  32. ^ "Croatia's Sanader awaiting extradition in Salzburg prison". 14 December 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  33. ^ "Hypo may have paid Sanader for loan deals". Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "Croatia's Sanader Faces New Corruption Probe". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  35. ^ "Croatia ex-PM Ivo Sanader denies corruption at trial". BBC News. 3 November 2011. 
  36. ^ a b "Prosecution witness testifies in Sanader trial". Daily TPortal. 8 December 2011. 
  37. ^ a b "Ex-PM Sanader back in Croatia".  
  38. ^ "Austria extradites Sanader". Austrian Independent. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  39. ^ Staff (16 December 2011). "Croatia's former PM Sanader released on bail". Reuters. 
  40. ^ "New Corruption Charges Against Former Croatian PM". OCCRP. 24 January 2012. 
  41. ^ Croatian Times (6 May 2012). "Ex PM Sanader faces another indictment". Croatian Times. 
  42. ^ Boris Pavelic. "Fifth Indictment Filed Against Former Croatian PM". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  43. ^ "Croatia jails ex-PM Ivo Sanader for taking bribes". BBC. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  44. ^ Škiljić-Ravenšćak, Ana (20 November 2012). "Sanaderu deset godina, stigao u remetinečki zatvor!".  
  45. ^ "Croatia jails ex-PM Ivo Sanader for taking bribes".  
  46. ^ "Croatia Supreme court confirms guilty verdict but reduces ex-PM Sanader's corruption sentence". 13 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  47. ^ "'Cijelu priču mogu okarakterizirati samo jednom rječju, a to je veleizdaja'". (in Croatian).  
  48. ^ Tuđman, Franjo. Odluka kojom se odlikuju Redom kneza Trpimira s ogrlicom i danicom. Narodne novine; retrieved 28 April 2015. (Croatian)
  49. ^ Mesić, Stjepan. Odluka kojom se odlikuju Veleredom kraljice Jelene s lentom. Narodne novine; retrieved 28 April 2015. (Croatian)

External links

  • Ivo Sanader biography at CIDOB (Spanish)
Political offices
Preceded by
Jure Radić
Minister of Science and Technology
Succeeded by
Branko Jeren
Preceded by
Ivica Račan
Prime Minister of Croatia
Succeeded by
Jadranka Kosor
Party political offices
Preceded by
Vladimir Šeks
0President of the Croatian Democratic Union0
Succeeded by
Jadranka Kosor
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