The new centre-left Croatian government, led by Zoran Milanovic, was sworn in on Friday 23 December 2011, shortly after the new Parliament voted on the date for EU accession referendum.
The people of Croatia were given 18 working days to fully inform themselves about EU and come out voting either Yes or No on 22 January 2012.
Now, that’s fast!
When Zoran Milanovic, Croatia’s new Prime Minister, talked earlier this month about Croatia having 50 to 60 days to save the credit rating, Milanovic said ‘’it’s not like in the Flash Gordon movie to have 14 seconds for saving the world.’’ Later on he also said that he was not Zorro the avenger. http://dalje.com/en-croatia/milanovic–im-not-flesh-gordon-or-zorro-the-avenger/400313
He may not be Flash Gordon or Zorro but he certainly reminds me of Speedy Gonzales when it comes to the referendum dates.
Speedy Gonzales wears a red kerchief too.
A survey result reportedly shows that up to 80% of voters feel inadequately informed about what’s waiting for them in the EU and what’s not. http://www.novilist.hr/Komentari/Blogovi/nEUrotik-Irene-Frlan/Ovo-je-prekomplicirano-da-biste-shvatili (article in Croatian)
Nevertheless, it needs to be recognised that the Ex HDZ government has distributed brochures, booklets, held discussion panels, published some details of EU negotiations etc. Also, there have been a large number of individual “FOR” and “AGAINST” internet/web campaigns. Example of booklet published: http://auto.vjesnik.hr/razno/e-prilozi/default.asp?dir=files/2011/06/EU_pregovori&izdanje=1#/0
If one takes note of the above mentioned Survey then something went wrong. Either the people at large did not pay enough attention to the information provided or the information itself lacked appeal?
Surely the new government is aware of this? But still, only 18 working days to make up one’s mind about a very important issue for the future of Croatia!
The new government is truly young and fresh; there’s lots of positive or vibes of hope among the population that come in handy with new governments everywhere and Croatia is no different, but – 18 working days!
Hoodwink comes to mind!
President Ivo Josipovic has also said that there is enough time until 22 January for people to receive adequate information about EU.
The citizens are sceptical. Perhaps the root of scepticism lies in the fact that Croatians had to deal with a relatively large number of other issues of paramount public importance in the past 6-8 months: the ICTY convictions of Generals Gotovina and Markac, their Appeal, first arrest in history for alleged WWII Communist Crimes, a new law to render the laws of Former Yugoslavia as futile, the publishing of EU Accession Treaty to be signed, general elections, new government … and so it could follow that there was an information overload and many people simply did not have time to take everything in, properly.
A newly formed “Council for Croatia”, comprising non-parliamentary parties, associations and individuals has commenced a “NO” campaign. “The Council said the lack of a public discussion and the non-transparency of the accession negotiations indicated that the elites in power were hiding from the public the real truth about the EU and the consequences of accession”. http://daily.tportal.hr/166715/Council-for-Croatia-No-to-the-EU-established.html
It seems odd to accuse the Ex HDZ government of non-transparency when in less than a month from receiving the extensive EU Accession Treaty text (September 2011), the Ex government translated all relevant parts into Croatian and published both the English and the Croatian language versions on the web.
The HDSSB (Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja) and Labor parties voted against 22 January and suggested a period of three months before the actual referendum date. http://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/zurba-referendumom-da-bismo-stigli-rokove-clanak-359654 (article in Croatian)
Prof. dr. sc. Davor Pavuna, a world renowned scientist living in Switzerland has recently expressed opinions for Vjesnik newspaper: “I see Croatia as a part of Europe, which by all accounts it is, but I’m not for joining the EU-entity as it stands now. I’m for EU-compatibility (like Switzerland) but not for joining as EU is disintegrating…I stand for the idea of croatisation of the planet, which means that Croatia, Croatian minds and friends of Croatia, regardless of where they live, build a network and focus on sovereign, authentic euro-compatible and planetary activity”. http://www.vjesnik.hr/Article.aspx?ID=a3ccf4c6-e299-4aa6-b321-8a1ba2ea389b (article in Croatian)
On the topic as to how to remain true to one self within the EU, “…we will remain so if we change our education system within a system that builds character and which nurtures sovereign and self-confident people who will take care of Croatia, and are not minions to systems such a EU … I’m not less of a Croatian because I’ve been living outside Croatia for 33 years. I’m still a Croatian, but I’m also a European, loyal to Switzerland or America and other countries and systems where I work”, Pavuna said.
A petition to the government in Croatia to postpone the referendum on EU accession until the ICTY final verdict on the Appeals by Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac is made and published – signatures are being collected as we speak. It is based on the assertion that when it comes to the 1995 Operation Storm, which liberated Serb-occupied Croatian territory, Croatia had every right under the Geneva Convention of 1949 to defend itself. Furthermore, the petition calls upon the wrongs done by EU against Croatia’s right to self-defence when EU abolished the Phare program and spread false information with regards to the shelling of Knin. The latter was picked up by ICTY and included in the ICTY charges against the Generals.
Five workers’ unions have applied to GONG (non-political organisation aiming at motivating and facilitating citizens to participate in political processes) seeking that it makes representations to the government and the President for a one month postponement on the referendum for EU accession. GONG has been unsuccessful in this. http://www.gong.hr/news.aspx?newsID=3744&pageID=1
http://www.hrt.hr/index.php?id=48&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=143860&tx_ttnews[backPid]=48&cHash=e226e1da67 (both articles in Croatian)
By the way, Neven Mimica (Croatia.s new Deputy Prime Minister) said, a couple of days after the Kukuriku (cock-a-doodle-doo) alliance electoral win on 4 December, that the referendum would most likely be held one month after the new government’s first working meeting – not before mid to late February 2012. http://www.hrt.hr/index.php?id=48&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=142172&cHash=6a73804c31
Before, the Croatian Constitution required that a majority of all registered voters be in favour in order for the accession to proceed. The June 2010 amendment of the Constitution requires only that majority of votes cast are in favour of accession, with no minimum figure or percentage specified.
Latest surveys suggest that up to 60% of Croatia’s voters would vote “Yes” for Croatian accession to EU. http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/12451023/croatia-s-centre-left-government-sworn-in-eu-referendum-set/
There is little doubt, though, that a good degree of discomfort and confusion about 22 January, for joining or not joining the EU, lingers on in Croatia.
I suppose that may be the case with any referendum, anywhere. National referendums do have the capacity and the knack of stirring the population into actions they may not be ready for, into hard-thinking and debating.
People need time to digest the information they receive in order to form informed opinions. It seems they’re not getting it in Croatia. Albeit, Vesna Pusic, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, indicated on Croatian HRT news December 27, that they’ll publish a lot of information on the internet … Well, what about the many who do not have access to the internet? What about more time?
I trust that most Croatian voters will turn up on the day and vote, otherwise the referendum could end up “Yes” or “No” without representing the majority of the voting population at large – i.e. Croatian people. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)