- January 23rd, 2012
- Posted by EUEditor
Croatians voted on Sunday to becomes the 28th member country of the European Union.
The voter turn-out was low at 44% but the decisionÂ emphatic, with 66% saying yes to ac cession, which is to take place in July next year, once the existing member governments have ratified it.
They have to date ratified the accession treaty signed last year, and approved by the Heads of Government in June. See EUAustralia Online: “EU heads on Croatia …”, 25.6.11); “Pope to Croatians: Get on the EU team”, (5.6.11).
Opponents objected to the idea of losing sovereignty, nationalist groups bemoaning a history of ill-fated attempts to get full independence; still only 20 years after Croatiaâ€™s painful and violent exit from its uneasy union with Serbia and other nationalities, in former Yugoslavia.
In the background, the country, and culture had to undergo some carthasis, to get ready for a democratic future.
As with Serbia, the EU wanted to see war criminals brought in, and in Croatia’s case, last May saw two of its former army Generals,Â Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markack, gaoled (for 24 and 18 years respectively), on war crimes charges at The Hague.
They’d been accused of complicity in â€œethnic cleansingâ€, murder and theft in the Krajina region in 1995 (See EUAustralia Online: “‘Got him!’, again …”, (27.5.11); â€œFormer Yugoslavia â€¦â€, (17.4.11).
Neighbouring Slovenia held up the negotiations for a time over a border issue, dating back to the two countries’ uneasy partnership as communist states within Yugoslavia, and before.
Croatian government leaders this week, along with all the major political parties, pointed out that with or without its current crisis over sovereign debt, the EU was the strongest bet for a good future.
“It is a historic decision… possibly a turning point in our history,” Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said after the vote.
Said a commentary in the London Independent: Those who supported membership said the country’s troubled economy â€“ burdened by recession, â‚¬48-billion (A$59.05-billion; xe.com, 23.1.12) of foreign debt and a 17% unemployment rate â€“ will revive with access to wider European markets and job opportunities.
BBC News, London, â€œCroatia EU referendum: Voters back membershipâ€, 23.1.12. www.bbc.co.uk, (23.1.12).
Dusan Stojanovic, â€œTest for EU as Croatians vote on membershipâ€, The Independent, London, 22.1.12. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/test-for-eu-as-croatians-vote-on-membership-6293247.html, (23.1.12).