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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Croatians Back EU Membership In Referendum







Photo: EPA/BGNES





A short time ago, a week before voting booths were scheduled to open, I posted about the Croatian E.U. Referendum. You can read that one HERE. This has been one of Croatia's goals right from the start of the independence movement in the early 90's. So no big surprise to me really.  I had a strong feeling it was going to go with the "YES" side getting the majority of the votes. Just like Hungary prior to their E.U. membership referendum, voter turnout was on the low side, but regardless, that's understandable with the lustre of the E.U, going through growing pains and hiccups the last little while. Some bad economic decisions by a few of the member states added more complications for the overall EU economy.

In the end though, a simple majority of the votes is all that mattered. There were a few protestors arrested for being a bit too unruly in the capital of Zagreb, but otherwise the referendum went ahead as planned and by midnight the results were almost all counted. Contrary to the rigmarole of some of the protestors which included a number of anarchists (and American televangelist opinions). No foreign army will come marching in to tear down flags and monuments, force us to speak another language, hand over the keys to their homes and worship 7 times a day the great image of that 666 Euro-whore beast thing and spread Euro-whore love).  was surprised to find even that a wikipedia article was almost immediatley posted after results were in, complete with all the statistics.





Scene from a voting center. (Photo: Reuters)





Croatia's new  Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Vesna Pusić, explaining a bit more about the nuts and bolts of Croatia in the E.U.  From an interview in English before the referendum.





Even though according to polls from a few years ago public opinion for joining was reaching 80%, I still think the 66% that voted YES from the total of votes cast is a positive thing.  Meaning if even with the world economic crisis and Euro debt crisis taking it's toll recently on the E.U., the majority of Croatian voters still realized it's still the way to go and best option for the future.  It's still the best alternative,  leaving the remnants of ex-Yugo politics and history in the dust bin of history where it belongs. This is one of the reasons why this referendum is so historic as well.  Aside from the referendum for independence in 1991, (Where 94% opted for "YES"), this will be the first union where  Croatian voters will have the last say in joining or not.  Nobody is forcing rules on anybody.  It's all out in the open, all the information is there for voters to read and base their vote upon.  Unlike the 2 previous Yugoslavia's, unlike the union with the Hungarians, Habsburgs and Austro-Hungarian empire.  A lot of people don't realize that important, historical fact.





 German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking on behalf of E.U. leaders extended congratulations and delight at the results of the referendum. 



Angela Merkel has been anxiously waiting over the past few years for Croatia to enter the EU. Here she was spotted discussing how she can't wait to get her hands on one of those huge, lip-smacking Zagreb style cheese and meat bureks in Munich.




One of the first congratulations on the Croatian Government Twitter page was from leaders of Montenegro. Montenegro is hoping to join the E.U. in the near future.





The leaders of the European nations were very happy that voters chose membership. A big sigh of relief even.  EU nation leaders knew that a "NO" vote would have had immediate repurcussions for the whole of the E.U. as well as for Croatia.  Along with Croatia's credit rating probably plunging, the functioning and future growth of the E.U. would have been in doubt too.  Any hope for E.U membership of any other nations would have been dashed because E.U. leaders would have been in damage control.  Probably future E.U. membership talks with other countries would be on hold indefenitely.   Like I mentioned before, E.U. membership is not going to be an instant winfall for Croatia, but it is definitely going to solidify Croatia's future and stability which will be a model for the other E.U. hopefulls.  The E.U. flag will now officially be flown alongside the Croatian flag, not replacing it.  Croatian language, culture and history will be protected and elevated.  Croatia will have a say in E.U. policy decisions.  After affirmation by the E.U. nation governments,  Croatia will officially be it's 28th member on July 1st of 2013.  Then the real work will begin.  This will most likely be my last political piece for quite some time.  I'll be back with my usual stuff down the road.





Leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, welcomed the results of the referendum in Croatia to approve future EU membership. 66% of the Croatian people voted in favour of EU membership in 2013. Interview with the Leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the EP, Hannes Swoboda, commenting on the outcome of the referendum.




For a breakdown of the numbers in each district, click onto the interactive map HERE.






















 Source: www.novinite.com


Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has welcomed the results of Sunday's Croatian referendum in which approximately 66% of the voters supported the country's EU membership.

"This positive outcome of the referendum is a result of the efforts put by the Croatian society and political leaders on the country's way to join the EU," Borisov said on Monday.

"I am glad that our European family will reach 28 members in 2013, with one more of them being from Southeastern Europe. Croatia's EU membership is an encouraging signal for the countries from the Western Balkans," Borisov declared.
 




 Croatian President Ivo Josipovic (C), Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic (L) and the Parliament speaker Boris Sprem (R) make a toast upon hearing unofficial results of the referendum, at the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb, 22 January 2012. EPA/BGNES 





Bulgaria will work to ratify Croatia's accession agreement as soon as possible, the Bulgarian Prime Minister added.

Bulgaria's former Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev also welcomed the Croatian referendum results.

"This is a historical moment for Croatia, as well as good news for Bulgaria and the EU enlargement process," the interim leader of the Party of European Socialists stated. Stanishev added that "it is now up to EU to answer the Croatian expectations."  The accession treaty was signed at the European Council last December and mandates that if it is ratified by all parties, Croatia will become a EU member in July 2013.





A cautious yes

Croats’ yes vote may encourage the rest of the western Balkans







 

NO FIREWORKS, no flag-waving crowds: just a champagne toast and a sigh of relief. That was the response on January 22nd, when Croats voted to join the European Union. The “yes” camp won a two-thirds majority, far more convincing than anyone had expected. True, the reported turnout of 43% was low. But Croatia’s voting rolls are out of date. Guessing at the real number of eligible voters and subtracting the diaspora, especially Bosnian Croats, the turnout may have been a respectable 60%, says Vesna Pusic, the foreign minister.

Croatia’s EU accession was negotiated by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government, which was thrashed in December’s election. But it was backed by its left-leaning successor and by all main political figures, academics, institutions and the Catholic church. Parts of the nationalist right were against but the wind was knocked from their sails last week when a hero, Ante Gotovina, who was convicted last year by the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague, said the EU was where Croatia belonged.

Opponents had argued that Croatia, which fought a war of independence against Yugoslavia two decades ago, should not now bind itself in a “Euroslavia”. They were backed by the likes of Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, and Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party. A demonstration by “no” campaigners the day before the referendum ended in clashes with the police. Mrs Pusic thinks that this prodded complacent pro-Europeans to turn out. They realised who was against, she says—and what was the alternative.

Ines Sabalic, a Croatian journalist in Brussels, notes that Croats have always argued that they are part of “Europe”, not the Balkans. Now, despite all the bad news across Europe, “they have made a strategic choice.” Mrs Pusic agrees. Croats are betting that membership will be good for stability at home and that the economic situation will improve. The EU, she concludes, is a long-term project.

The vote was greeted with relief in the rest of the western Balkans. A “no” would have been catastrophic for the hopes of other countries. There is still gloomy talk about how long the whole process will take, but this may be overdone. Serbia, which failed to gain candidate status in December, could do so in March. Montenegro is set to begin talks on accession in June. And Bosnia’s new government may apply later this year. Slowly but surely the western Balkans is moving towards European integration.









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