Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bad Company

PULS, Croatian top polling agency, has reported that for the first time the support for Croatian entry to EU dropped below psychological line of 50 %. At this time 49 % Croatians support the entry, while 41 % are opposed.

As I have written many times in this blog, only few years ago such results would have been unimaginable. Opposition towards Croatian entry to EU was in single digits, while the Eurosceptics were branded as cooks.

In the meantime, things have changed. EU that Croatia is supposed to join is not the EU Croatians identified themselves in late 1980s and first decade of independence. In those times EU had 12 members, most of them associated with NATO, US military might and ideology which was seen as the embodiment of everything Eastern Europe – Communism and Orthodox Christianty – is not.

For hard-core Croatian nationalist, Croatian entry into EU was rebirth of Croatia as "antemurale Christanitatis" – borderland of Western Christian civilisation. Croatia was supposed to enter into the world of capitalism, liberal democracy and prosperity, while Serbia should remain outside the heavenly gates of EU-utopia as a pathetic example of Asiatic barbarity, poverty and despotism.

Now it is almost certain that Croatia would join EU in the same package with predominantly Orthodox countries like Bulgaria and Rumania. To make things even more worrying for Croatian nationalists, EU has recently announced that Serbia-Montenegro would join EU "not before 2012". For Croatian nationalists, any idea of Croatia and Serbia being in EU together is insulting, and the idea of Serbia catching up to Croatia in only five years is simply unacceptable.

But this is something Croatia should have to accept, especially after official beginning of negotiations between EU and Turkey. If Turkey is to be accepted into EU, it is simply impossible not to accept countries like Serbia or Bosnia.

Additional fuel to all those who claim that EU is not what it used to be is the escalation of hostility between Croatia and one of newest EU members – Slovenia. While it is unlikely that this development might result in bloodshed in the near future (one of Istrian fishermen's leaders doesn't rule out that possibility), those trends in the long run might prove to be extremely damaging not only to Croatia or Slovenia, but for EU itself. Two of its members might start a process familiar to citizens of another supra-national federation.


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