Croats Protest Against Joining EU

Posted January 14th, 2012 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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More than 1,000 protesters gathered in Croatia's capital, Zagreb, Saturday to demonstrate against joining the European Union.

Nationalist leaning protesters and war veterans gathered at Zagreb's main square, carrying banners with messages such as “I love Croatia – No to EU.'' One protester, a war veteran, said Croats have spilled too much blood fighting for independence in the early 1990s to now rush into another group of nations.

“There are many reasons why not to enter the EU, but the most important is that we, the Croatian defenders and the Croatian nation, defended the country with the blood of 15,500 innocent victims. Today, our useless political elites want to push us into the EU, throw dirt on the victims, as if nothing had happened, and leave us at the mercy of capitalists who will not take care of Croatian national interests, but of their own interests only.”

A separate group demonstrated in favor of joining the 27-nation bloc. Among them was Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, who was involved in membership negotiations with the EU. She warned that the country could be in trouble if the referendum fails.

“If the referendum on January 22 succeeds, we'll have wind in our sails. If it doesn't, God forbid, we'll face a lot of difficulties.”

Croatia signed an accession treaty with the EU last year, after an arduous six-year process. It is set to join the 27-nation bloc in July 2013. Croats will decide on membership in a nationwide referendum scheduled for January 22.

Once eager to join the union, many Croats have lost interest in joining the union after witnessing the near-collapse of the eurozone and experiencing economic troubles of their own at home.

In addition to the Croatian referendum, the accession treaty also has to be ratified by all 27 member states before it comes into force.