Monday

17th Jun 2019

Poll: Majority of Croatians favour EU accession

Despite the ongoing crisis sweeping across Europe and the threat of a eurozone breakup, the majority of Croatians favour joining the Union.

Nearly 58 percent of Croatians want to join the European Union and become its 28th member, according to the latest poll conducted by Promocija Plus in early January.

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  • Zagreb: Croatia's accession referendum is on 22 January (Photo: Sobrecroacia.com)

The survey comes just ahead of a referendum on EU membership due on 22 January. The referendum is not legally binding but it will be politically important for the government to secure to a Yes vote, with 1 July 2013 already set as the official accession date.

While the poll results may provide an additional momentum to the government’s pro-Europe stance, a similar poll held in the immediate aftermath of the United Nations war crimes tribunal decision to convict two former top Croatian generals showed 26 percent supported EU accession. That was only in April 2011.

Nonetheless, Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic told reporters Saturday (7 January) that EU integration is essential and the country would benefit vastly from EU adhesion. “It would be irresponsible to miss out on this opportunity,” he added.

Earlier this month, the new centre-left government led by the Social Democrats launched a vote ‘Yes’ campaign.

The country applied for membership in 2003 and signed the EU accession treaty on 9 December, 2011. It will be the second of six Balkan republics, after Slovenia, that formed the old socialist Yugoslavia to join the EU.

The seven-year process became mired in a territorial dispute with Slovenia over the Bay of Piran, a small body of water in the northern Adriatic Sea some 20 square kilometers in size. At the time, some Slovenian politicians threatened to hold a referendum against Croatia’s entry into the EU.

The historical precedent is not lost upon the Croatian politicians who view the pportunity to join the EU as a story built upon the ashes of a war that had claimed 20,000 lives only 16 years ago.

Following the 9 December, 2011 EU accession treaty signing in Brussels, President Josipovi and outgoing Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor described the membership as a struggle against for independence from Serbia.

"It is with love and pride that I remember all those who laid down their lives for a free Croatia," Kosor said at a ceremony in the EU headquarters in Brussels following the treaty signing.

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