Sunday 22, Croatians have a referenda to corroborate or not the governmental decision to enter the EU. If this had been 20 years ago, when Croatia was proclaimed independent the result would be without doubt: yes, yes, as soon as better, because there was, (and there is) a very strong perception and a long history that situate Croatia in Central and western Europe because is a mediterranean Country that had a long history related with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and not with the slavic countries in the neighborhood until the WWI that formed Yugoslavia. (By de way, my father used to say that he was older than the entire history of the former Yugoslavia and it was true). So the links with Central and Western Europe are strong. Croatia belongs to Europe.
But in this two last decades things had changed a lot. A cruel war when Milosević launched the project of the “Great Serbia”, and then, after Croatia was recognized with the borders defined and the war in its territory ended, a political delays because at this time the politics in Europe was to say that all sides in the war were equal, no matter who began to move tanks and the army against first and briefly to Slovenia, then Croatia and then Bosnia Herzegovina.
So, no way to let enter Croatia before Serbia, above all when the trials in the International Court of Hague for crimes of war were in process. Both Croatia and Serbia were accused of not cooperating giving up their accused of crimes, but it was a difference, the people wanted in Croatia were given up or at large, and in Serbia, some were for years in the power or localized. The economic situation, the conditions, the negotiations didn’t matter, it seemed
Finally, the Croatian most wanted Ante Gotovina, was detained in Spain. And then there where no more excuses. the conversations began to go faster and faster to reach the point of the admission. Now. Just when the EU is in a deep crisis and the political questions seems to don’t matter, only the economy, with the members impoverished, some in at the edge of bankruptcy and one unique goal that had divided the Union: save the Euro and if not, all country by itself.
Also the opportunity to enter de EU came soon after a big wave of anger in the Country because the Tribunal of Hague said in a sentence, between other things, that the military operation that put an end to the war in Croatia was a crime of war “per se” from the moment it was planned. The veterans were outraged. Almost all the foreign correspondents predicted a wave of extreme violence, but it was not such a thing. It was anger expressed mostly in demonstrations and concentrations with interventions of veterans of that battle, nothing more. But that sentence put very much people against joining the EU.
It was a good coincidence that several weeks after that the Pope Benedikt XVI had planned a visit to Croatia that dissolved the anger in joy, because the Country is mostly Roman Catholic and the visit, dedicated to the youngsters and the families, was a big success. In that visit the Pope said that he was glad Croatia was about to enter the EU because it was a Country with deep Christian ruth and that was good for the Union.
And now, a day before the referenda, some extremists protested and tried to trash an EU flag in Zagreb. But today, saturday 21, from Hague, the hero of the veterans and nationalists, Ante Gotovina, who voted by mail from jail said that he is pro the EU, because Croatia belongs to Europe, sending a message to people like that protesters who tried to trash the flag, He who was the “big political problem” for the EU negotiators.
It’s true that Croatia belongs to Central-Western Europe, and logic says it has to be present in its institutions. But it’s opportunity come in the worst moment. when the Union is sinking like the “Costa Concordia” in Italy, and needs big reforms and captains thinking in save the people and not only in the currency.
There is no way to predict the result. For the optimist will be a yes with a low participation. Let’s see. Sunday 22 we will have the answer and see if Croatia will enter in the EU with the courage and hope that what’s happening now will pass, or will try, also with courage to make its way alone in the permanently troubled waters of its surrounding region.
No matter what happen, Croatia will be as always a beautiful european country, with god people who loves and is proud of its stunning nature and its monuments, a popular tourist destination, and with a lot of possibilities.