Ivica Racan, 63, the former Croatian prime minister who rebuilt economic and trade ties with Europe following the bloody civil wars of the 1990s, died of cancer yesterday in a Zagreb hospital.

The Social Democratic Party, led by Mr. Racan since Croatia declared its independence in 1991, announced the death on its Web site.

Mr. Racan, premier from 2000 until 2003, began rebuilding the nation's international reputation after its role in the Balkan civil wars of the 1990s led it into political and economic isolation. His overhaul of the economy helped Croatia begin entry talks with the European Union in 2005. The country of 4.5 million plans to join the 27-member bloc in 2009.

Mr. Racan was born in the German town of Ebersbach, where his mother was a captive in a Nazi labor camp. She returned to what was then Yugoslavia after the end of World War II. He married three times and had two sons.

Mr. Racan led a six-party coalition government that came to power in January 2000, replacing the 10-year rule of the Croatian Democratic Union and its autocratic president, Franjo Tudjman. - Bloomberg News