EU criticism awakens euro-scepticism in Croatia


German and some EU officials' warning that Croatia is not ready for membership sparks split reactions in the blogosphere.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb -- 1/12/12


Croatian President Ivo Josipovic visited Brussels to speak with officials after the warnings. [AFP]

Croatia officials say they are confident that their country will enter the EU on July 1st 2013, despite cautious words from some EU members and scepticism among some bloggers.

Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003 and the EU set July 1st as the country's entry date. But EU officials have criticised Croatia for not meeting Union criteria and standards and some said the country is not ready for membership.

"After the bad experience with Bulgaria's and Romania's membership, I do not believe Croatia is ready to become an EU member," Norbert Lambert, president of the lower house of the German Bundestag, said.

Jeljko Kacin, European Parliament's Balkan rapporteur, agreed, saying the EU may postpone Croatia's membership date.

In response, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic promptly visited Brussels to talk to key officials while Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic visited Berlin.

"There is not a word about a delayed entry. We believe July 1st is the date when Croatia will become a member. … There are no doubts Croatia will fulfill the conditions," Josipovic said.

The scepticism about Croatia’s candidacy is upsetting to some bloggers.

"People have lost hope that things will be better in the EU. Every day we hear about new conditions, and the common man for which all this work is done is totally forgotten in the process," Rasko Barbaric, 41, a psychologist from Zagreb, told SETimes.

"I hope that we will never need to join in that failed experiment called the EU. ... However, there is no political force in Croatia which would offer an alternative. All the parties that came to power from Croatia's independence onward have showed nothing but primitivism and theft," Booyaka said.

Some bloggers, however, argued the EU assessment of Croatia is justified and the government needs to make an effort to achieve the standards.

"[V]ery little has changed since the official talks with the EU began. ... [I]t is time for Croats finally to do something if they want in the EU," Macak 12 wrote.

He also said criticism from Berlin is tougher than from Brussels, because many German officials are against further EU enlargement.

"This is a result of failing to re-animate Greece. The EU wants additional efficacy of candidate countries, the criteria are growing," Zdravko Petak, professor of political science at the University of Zagreb, told SETimes.

"But the Croatian government cannot do anything spectacular in half a year, and new conditions will surely produce an even greater number of euro-sceptics," Petak added.

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Donhuan Djidjimilovic argued the Germans are wise not to believe Croatia's promises because Croatia cannot become an EU member while in its present economic condition. "We do not need to be surprised if the EU demands new, tougher conditions," he said.

Others argue Croatia has done too many sacrifices down the EU road to be stopped now.

"What about all we had to sell to reach the EU? Who will settle the sale of INA, the banks and other state enterprises? ... Five million Croats are coming in and there is nothing you can do about it," Fircon said.

"The world elite granted us entry and that is it. The Slovenians or some minor politicians can only cry, fact is, it no longer in their power [to affect entry]. [Croatia's] poor grades are totally irrelevant, and all those comments are totally out of place," Mornar said.

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