Croatia: EU accession – “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”

Nothing is irreversible until the final act is played out – says the proverb in the title of this post.

When it comes to Croatia becoming a member of the EU then that final act, in everyone’s mind, is the ratification of Croatia’s accession Treaty by the existing member states’ parliaments. So far the playing out of that final act has been going steady as about 15 out of the 27 states have sealed their part in it. 1 July 2013 is the deadline for this final act and its successful grand finale also depends on Croatia passing in the eyes of member states the big test of monitoring EU had imposed. Bar very few exceptions, words of praise to Croatia keep reeling in.

And then this world is suddenly shattered: “the fat lady to sing” may not be the ratification of the Treaty and Croatia’s performance in monitoring but something else entirely! She could well, all along,  have been the EU’s push to equate the victims with the aggressor in Croatia’s War of Independence, which would not allow Croatia to become member of EU before Serbia!?

Certainly, a great deal of what has happened in “rushing” Serbia’s EU member candidate status (including eating the words that Serbia will need to recognise the independence of Kosovo before it can be considered as EU member candidate) points to political manipulation in which rules are made “as-you-go”.

Now, Croatia’s prime minister Zoran Milanovic, who says Croatia will definitely pass the EU monitoring test by 1 July 2013, comes out with statements that there’s rumours in diplomatic circles that Croatia’s accession to EU membership would be delayed to the end of 2013. These rumours were made public via media in Croatia as they surfaced on October 19th – 3 days after Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic and Serbia’s former president Boris Tadic received the EU Medal of Tolerance!

The unpalatable political puzzle of the EU gains more vivid pieces.

To put more fire into these rumours Milanovic comes out with a bizarre statement that Croatia would need to have a new referendum regarding membership in the EU. Reasons he’s feeding the public are that there’s a “new” EU on the drawing board – an EU which was not the subject of Croatia’s January 2012 EU referendum! Therefore, Milanovic says that people had not really voted in the referendum for the “new EU”!

Milanovic’s bizarre statement about some new referendum shocked the Croatian public, even if it is widely felt that he is battling for survival of his government.

President Ivo Josipovic is confused by it (?).

He rushed in and stated that “he did not understand Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s statement about a possible referendum on Croatia’s European Union membership, that Croatia had voted in favour of it”.

He added that “if an issue comes up, either domestic or foreign, it’s always possible for citizens to decide on it at a referendum in line with the constitution and law.”

The “new EU” Milanovic refers to relates to current plans for creating new banking and financial unions within the EU which have implications of member states’ sovereignty being compromised.  Centralised control of, or interference with sovereignty from Brussels is certainly a fate most likely.

When Croatians voted in EU referendum in January many did not vote at all because of this fear, but Milanovic wouldn’t even acknowledge this fear. He was adamant that there’s nothing to be feared as far as Croatian sovereignty was concerned. His newly elected government (dubbed by the public as “the chicken coop” on basis of its given name KUKURIKU/Cock-a-doodle-doo and lots of noise with little results) went so far as to change the Constitution regarding majority votes at Referendums in order to secure a “Yes to EU” outcome. Indeed Milanovic’s government is under heavy criticsm by German parliamentarians for this very issue.

In the end, I do not want to be proven right with regards to the fear that EU will not let Croatia in before Serbia. Croatian people, Croatian War of Independence have not and do not deserve such undeserved harsh treatment and indignity. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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