EU? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ EU!
Opinion poll showing less than 50 % Croatians supporting Croatian entry into EU has recently created shock among Croatian political establishment. According to various polls, in a year support for EU – something which used to be opposed only by lunatic right-wing fringe – has slipped for 25 %.
Those who oppose EU might be lunatics and right-wing, but they aren’t fringe any more.
And picture is even more depressing for Euophiles if the ranks of Eurosceptics are joined by those who simply don’t show any enthusiasm for the whole project. A week ago results of another poll, conducted few months ago for European Commission, showed that only around 33 % Croatians believe that entry to EU will improve life in
In the context of Gotovina affair and upcoming March 17th fiasco, many Croatian political commentators are trying to find some rational explanations and convenient excuses for such dramatic rise of Euroscepticism in
Some blame Carla del Ponte, chief ICTY prosecutor, for trying to maintain the waning authority of her organisation by pushing the hard line in the Gotovina affair at the Croatian expense.
Others tend to blame Sanader for not spending a dime on PR campaign that would explain what EU is all about and how many wonderful are going to happen once Croatia becomes a member. Some blame Sanader for making March 17th into such a big deal in minds of Croatians that any minor setback could be interpreted as nothing less that absolute disaster.
All this is, of course, accompanied by the usual set of conspiracy theories that range from those claiming that EU uses Gotovina as a leverage in order to turn accession negotiations into Diktat to those claiming that Yugonostalgic and pro-Serb elements within EU want to have
Croatian political and media establishment is trying to prepare for the upcoming disaster in different ways. The easiest ways seems to be discrediting Eurosceptics through association with the darkest elements of Croatian politics.
Colonel Mirko Čondić (Mirko Condic), disabled war veteran who have led the protests against ICTY, gave them one such present. Four years ago he and Sanader were together at 150,000-men protest in
Words like “military wing” were enough to allow Croatian media establishment to rally around Sanader and accuse Eurosceptics as hard-line nationalists, ultra-rightwingers and dangerous fanatics who would reintroduce violence in Croatian politics. Experiences from 2001, when war veterans paralysed Croatia with roadblocks – in a way eerily resembling start of 1990 “Krajina” rebellion – are good reason for concern. So, there are so many editorials and op-ed pieces which use words like “
Needless to say, this is mostly likely the last desperate argument Sanader is using while trying to convince EU diplomats to change their mind. If they say “no” to Sanader today, they might not have Sanader to make business with in couple of months.
President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic), on the other hand, has chose different, and in a way, more proper way to respond to the upcoming fiasco. He jovially said that “March 17th wasn’t such a big deal”.
His words were followed by some commentators who took common sense approach to these matters and stated previously heretical thought that Croatian entry to EU won’t solve all Croatian problems. Using examples of Britain, Germany, France and other countries which had their economies and living standards slump despite being part of the wonderful world of European integration, they point that the ultimate responsibility for the well-being of Croatia lies within Croatian people, regardless whether Croatia is within EU or not.
In other words, March 17th fiasco should be taken as an opportunity rather than disaster. Before joining EU,
In that way, Croatian Euroscepticism is justified.