February 15, 2009
In Croatia a Round Table discussion entitled “Croatia: Tired of EU Reforms?” was held last week. The title of event was quite describing because a recent Gallup poll showed serious doubts about Croatia’s EU membership. Opinion of local citizens is of course core of future developments but at least as important and actual aspect is if EU is capable to take any new members at all in the coming years.
A recent Gallup opinion poll indicates that 29 percent of Croatian citizens think EU membership is a good idea, while 26 percent think otherwise, while 38 percent think that EU membership is “neither good nor bad.” The polls shows that 39 percent of respondents believe public support will exist for EU entry, while 45 percent disagree. (Source Beta 11th Feb. 2009)
President of the Croatian Helsinki Committee Žarko Puhovski attended the Round Table. Puhovski said quite straight words about EU enlargement, such as
For years we disgraced ourselves before the EU with incomplete reforms and the unacceptable political situation during the 1990s. Now it is time for the EU to hold its head in shame towards Croatia, because it accepted Bulgaria and Romania before us, and has allowed Slovenia to run amok.
The fact Greece exists in the EU means that we do not have to do anything else in terms of judicial reform, and the fact that certain Baltic states are members means that we have nothing to do in the realm of minority policies.
So Mr. Puhovski compares situation in certain member-states and concludes that the implementation of reforms and harmonization of the legal system with EU standards were not the real conditions for entering the EU during last enlargement round.
One part of euro-scepticism in Croatia may be related to impression that neighbour Slovenia is blocking integration talks between Croatia and the EU over the border dispute between Ljubljana and Zagreb.
Meanwhile in Slovenia has also been an opinion poll carried about by Slovenian daily Delo, in which 398 people participated. The survey showed that 49.7 percent of Slovenians would vote against Croatia joining the EU, while 32.7 percent would vote in favor. At the same time, nearly half of Slovenians—46.8 percent—would accept Croatia’s entrance into NATO, while 37.5 percent would oppose it. (Source Tanjug 9th Feb. 2009)
In the EU’s side the question also is problematic. Both European Parliament and Commission are signalling that first he Lisbon Treaty should be officially accepted in all EU member-states before any new enlargement can take place. Even if Lisbon Treaty with its new structures and decision mechanisms will be implemented there s question how much enlargement EU can absorb. Island (and Norway if they want) and Croatia are not problem but in next round the rest of western Balkans is perhaps coming. The big question is hat EU is planning to do with Turkey and on he other hand how long Turkey’s patience will hold.
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