Welcome Croatia!

Today sees Croatia’s accession as the 28th member of the European Union. Croatia joins Slovenia, of the former Yugoslavia, which acceded in 2004.

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We can sometimes forget in our arguments over EU budgets, CAP reform and the repatriation of powers, just what the bigger picture is. With this accession, the EU is serving to bolster democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in a part of Eastern Europe recently emerged from civil war. It is serving British interests by bringing Western influence to the East, in a manner which, had we been offered it during the Cold War we would have bitten off that hand in a heartbeat. It is once again bringing erstwhile enemies into a community of peace, freedom and tolerance.

More information on the accession can be found here, and comment from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe here, and Nick Clegg, who is attending on behalf of the UK, here.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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18 Comments

  • A big warm welcome to the EU to fellow Europeans from Croatia!

  • Another nation sponging off our tax payers an there Euro MP’s creaming off Europe tax payers They are NOT net Contributors and probably Never will be

  • William Summers 1st Jul '13 - 1:55pm

    Sorry to be slightly pedantic Joe, but Croatia is not in Eastern Europe and they don’t take too kindly to being told otherwise! Also it wasn’t a civil war (Yugoslavia was really only ever an artificially constructed federation of states)… and nor was it very recent having finished almost 20 years ago. It’s also pretty democratic, given that it has fair elections for all its parliamentary representatives and doesn’t, for example, have an unelected upper chamber or hereditary head of state! Whilst we’re at it I’m also not sure in what sense Croatia can be described as “erstwhile enemies” given we’ve never been to war against them.

    That said, I suspect accession to the EU has helped Croatia to reform its institutiona, just as the promise of being in the EU club is also (arguably) helping to encourage sensible government in Serbia and a more passive stance on Kosovo.

  • I love Croatia and have spent many happy hols there (in the late 90s and early 2000s when it was much cheaper incidentally), but really it is yet another country for whom we will have to pay to sort out their economy.

    I don’t get the deal as far as the UK and bringing former communist countries into the EU is concerned. We get to pay for their infrastructure, while neglecting ours at home, we get their unemployed youth, while leaving our youngsters on the scrapheap and they get our factories, which relocate to where labour costs are lowest.

    Sorry to rain on this particular parade, but what, apart from a vague sense of international doogoodery, do we really gain in the UK?

    I’m afraid it’s two cheers for Croatian accession.

  • Will Croatia be taking steps to protect its beaches and warm weather at reasonable prices from the millions of tourism tourists towelling off themselves after a swim?

    Its a disgrace, DISGRACE I tell you.

  • I’d quite like to visit it myself, but NO-ONE ELSE OK!

  • @Peter Tyzack

    “I am happy to share what I have, especially when that sharing will help others to grow and become valued partners and friends, repaying ten-fold in time. ”

    Would that that were the case. I am currently in Italy, and while on an individual basis, Italians are often wonderful people, collectively they harbour a host of negative misconceptions and attitudes about the UK, particularly in the context of the EU.

    First of all, the fact that tens of thousands of young British lives were lost in liberating them from the Nazis has been swept totally under the carpet and virtually erased from Italian history because it is politically inconvenient for both the left (who prefer to celebrate the deeds of the partisans and can’t bear to have been liberated by imperialist capitalists) and the right (because they are often neo-fascists anyway).

    Secondly, there is no recognition for the massive financial input Britain has made to the EU and the fact that when it signs up to EU rules, it actually follows them. Instead many Italians are firmly of the view that we actually receive money from the EU on a net basis and that the only reason we don’t take part in EU integration is because we are too old fashioned and still think we have an Empire (being capitalist imperialists and still having the Queen and all that…). They can’t believe that we have the arrogance not to join the Euro, Schengen etc and that we might actually, genuinely think that ever closer European political union is actually a bad idea.

    So no, contrary to your supposition, paying for lots of nice stuff for countries via the EU does not result in spontaneous gratitude and international friendship, as the Germans have found out with Greece.

    It’s time to live in the real world: people have friends but countries have interests.

    @ Joe Otten

    EU expansion does work for the countries joining, because they receive lots of money to boost their economies. My point is, for the UK this may have intangible benefits, but it has tangible, real costs. On a cost, benefit analysis, the arguments are more evenly balanced.

  • I welcome Croatia’s admittance to the EU and echo Joe’s sentiments that this accession can serve to bolster democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the area of the Balkans.

    Croatia was a creation of the Treaty of Versailles following the break-up of the Austo-Hungarian empire and has experienced a turbulent history on its road to independence.

    There is still a long way to go before the Country can put the recent Yugoslavian conflict behind it and it remains a major source of underground arms proliferation as Paddy Ashdown has observed in a recent debate Syria: 3,500 tons of weapons already sent to rebels, says Lord Ashdown .

    Paddy, in speaking of the Syria conflict, notes:

    “…it is an unchallenged figure that 3,500 tons of arms have been shipped in by way of Croatia with the assistance of the CIA, funded by the Saudis, funded by the Qataris, going almost exclusively to the more jihadist groups, I know where those weapons are coming from. They are the weapons left over from the Bosnian war. They are being shipped out in large measure through Croatian ports and airports and I can tell you they are making vast sums for corrupt forces in the Balkans.”

  • @RC: Yes, the Greeks should be eternally grateful to the Germans for condescending to place their glorious jackboot on the Greeks’ collective neck. And not for the first time, either! German generosity clearly knows no bounds — especially when it comes with strings attached. Heavy, clanking strings.

  • There are some curious notions about Croatian history given in the comments above. Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian dual state before 1918 — most of it in Hungary, but a large part in the Austrian Empire. With the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the end of 1918, a state of the south Slavic peoples of the Empire was formed, which very quickly joined (1 December 1918) the Kingdom of Serbia to form the “Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes,” the later Yugoslavia. This was all a fait accompli before the allied delegates ever met in Versailles, and the Entente powers had nothing to say about it — far from Yugoslavia being created by the allies, there was initial resistance to recognizing the new kingdom (especially the annexation of Montenegro).
    In this new state, Croatia had no autonomy or even distinct identity. In the second World War, Croatia briefly (1941-1945) was a separate fascist state, nominally independent but with policies largely directed by the Italian Fascists and German Nazis. Only when Yugoslavia was re-formed as a communist republic under Tito in 1945 did Croatia become a quasi-autonomous federal state.

  • Sean O'Curneen 2nd Jul '13 - 6:08pm

    Welcome to Croatia, yet another country to which UK companies will be able to export via the single market, adding to the £200 billion worth of UK exports to other EU member states, and adding to the 3.5m UK jobs linked to trade with EU member states. Those who only look at the net-budgetary-contribution tend to forget the contribution that consumers in other countries make to the “net contributor” by buying its products and services. The UK will continue to benefit from its membership of the EU with Croatia’s arrival.

  • David,

    I am guilty of what the author of this article refers to as the oft-repeated error that the Versailles Treaty created Yugoslavia Versailles and Yugoslavia: Ninety years on . He recounts the modern history of the state more accurately in noting:

    “The Treaty of Versailles was the first major international document signed by official representatives of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Therefore, it represents ipso facto recognition of the new state by the Paris Peace Conference and by the main powers (with the exception of the United States, which had recognised Yugoslavia already in February 1919). If Yugoslavia was born on 1 December 1918, its baptism took place on 28 June 1919.”

  • “Croatia was a creation of the Treaty of Versailles following the break-up of the Austo-Hungarian empire and has experienced a turbulent history on its road to independence.”

    Does the treaty of Versailles also specify the entire Croatian language, traditional clothing, food recipes etc.?

    Isn’t it more the case that the Austro-Hungarian empire was a creation of early politics and military action and the Treaty of Versailles started the process of giving people their own states?

  • Simon Banks 9th Jul '13 - 10:14pm

    William: not sorry to be pedantic. Apart from the argument on the nature of the conflicts around the collapse of Yugoslavia ( it isn’t taking sides to point out that the federation had its supporters, especially when there was still a Soviet threat, Dixie Confederates might have said the U.S. was an artificial construction, and with a better argument, Biafrans might have argued that for Nigeria) – Joe said the AREA emerged from civil war. What happened in Bosnia was surely civil war, though of course neighbouring Serbia and Croatia were deeply involved. Yes, it’s a while since the Kosovo conflict ended (the last conflict in the area, and if you look at where the southern tip of Croatia is, Kosovo IS in the same area) but in terms of history, especially European conflict, that’s a short time.

    I appreciate people in east of centre Europe prefer to be called Central Europeans rather than East Europeans, but wherever you draw the line, some people west of it will consider their eastern neighbours to be East Europeans and their neighbours will insist they’re in Central Europe. Perhaps it would be better to stop stigmatising Eastern Europe, which is in many ways the cradle of European civilisation.

    As for Terry’s comment – Croatia is not an economic basket case and is potentially prosperous.

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