(AFP, AP, Reuters, DPA, BBC, AKI, Euronews, EurActiv, Croatian Times, B92 - 18/02/10; RFE/RL - 16/01/10; AFP - 11/01/10; AP, Reuters - 10/01/10; Official Website of the President of Croatia)
Social Democrat Ivo Josipovic was sworn in as president of Croatia on February 18th 2010, five weeks after defeating Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic in a runoff presidential vote on January 10th. A law professor and classical music composer, he replaced Stipe Mesic in the post, becoming Croatia's third elected president since the country declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Josipovic was born on August 28th 1957 in Zagreb, where he attended a secondary music school and then studied Composition at the Zagreb Academy of Music. He graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb in 1980 and passed the bar examination. In 1985, he obtained a Masters' Degree in criminal law from the University of Zagreb, where he has since been teaching criminal procedure law, international criminal law and misdemeanor law.
Josipovic, who also holds a PhD from the University of Zagreb, has represented Croatia before the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
He joined the League of Communists of Croatia in 1980 and helped in its transformation into a European-style leftist party, which was renamed in 1989 to League of Communists of Croatia-Party for Democratic Change (SKH-SDP) and eventually to the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP). Josipovic left the party in 1994 to devote himself to law and music, staying out of politics for the next nine years.
In 2003, he was elected member of parliament as an independent candidate listed on the SDP election ticket. He did not renew his party membership until 2008, a year after he was re-elected to the Croatian Parliament.
In July 2009, the SDP -- in opposition since 2003 -- named Josipovic as its official presidential candidate. He came well ahead of the 11 other contenders for Mesic's post in the first round of the presidential election on December 27th 2009, taking 32% of the vote. Bandic, who ran as an independent candidate, came out second with nearly 15%.
Josipovic, who pledged to fight corruption and organised crime in Croatia and lead the country to the EU in his presidential campaign, easily won the runoff on January 10th 2010 with more than 60% of the vote.
Stepping into office on February 18th, Josipovic repeated his promise for a "new justice" in Croatia, stressing that his country "must be a home of democracy and human rights".
"We shall all unite in fighting corruption and organised crime, that cancer of our society. I promise I will never let up in this fight," he said at the inauguration ceremony, attended by ten Balkan and central-European leaders, and international officials.
On the first day of his five-year mandate, Josipovic also vowed to work together with the government "so that Croatia can become an EU member as soon as possible".
Josipovic authored 85 academic and professional works published in domestic and international journals and composed 50 musical pieces for different instruments, chamber orchestras and the symphony orchestra.