EU scepticism rising in Croatia

Support for the EU is on the wane in Croatia, as in many European countries, following the recent Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

Source: Tanjug

Of 1,000 people surveyed, only 30 percent felt that EU membership was a “good thing”, while 39 percent were neutral, according to the latest Eurobarometer opinion poll.

According to the poll, the only countries where approval ratings have risen are Cyprus, Malta and the Czech Republic, while in Greece, France and Italy, support has tailed off considerably.

The especially low support in Croatia compared to, say, Macedonia, where 72 percent of citizens support EU integration, is thought to be down to the feud over the protected ecological fishing belt in the Adriatic, the pressure on the ship-building industry, the additional criteria imposed on Zagreb by Brussels, and reports that talks will be finished with the EU no earlier than autumn 2009.

Another factor is believed to be the impression in certain quarters that Brussels does not have equal criteria for the countries in the region, with the view that Serbia is being given the benefit of the doubt, despite not achieving full Hague cooperation.

President Stjepan Mesić also commented on the poll’s findings, stating that Croatian officials had not been sufficiently convincing when promoting Croatian EU entry.

Certain people benefited from Croatia’s isolation during the Nineties, said Mesić, adding that new capital had been acquired from shady dealings back then, and all those millionaires had in their hands the means to send completely opposing messages, to the effect that Croatia had to defend and preserve itself.

“We want Europe to be there, and we in Europe, we want to take advantage of European funds and activate our potential,” stressed the president.


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