For the first time since 1991, when Croatia voted to secede from the former Yugoslavia, Croatians united in a vote that favored joining the European Union. Official projections state about 66 percent of the voters answered “yes” to the question: “Do you support the membership of the Republic of Croatia in the European Union?” The remaining 33 percent of voters were either against joining or the ballots were invalid.
Unlike the 1991 vote, when 84 percent of Croatia’s eligible voters took part, only 47 percent voted in this referendum, which is among the lowest turnout in any of the European Union states that have voted in an accession referendum before joining. Hungary also had a low voter turnout at about 46 percent, while Malta had more than 90 percent vote.
Zoran Milanovic, the Croatian Prime Minister, said, “This is a historic decision, the turning point in our history, as from now on, everything, including success or failure, depends only on us.”
The EU stated that this is good news for the entire Balkan region and congratulated Croatia on their vote saying, “The upcoming accession of Croatia sends a clear signal to the whole region of southeastern Europe. It shows that through political courage and determined reforms, EU membership is within reach.”
However, anti-European Union activists were outraged. War veteran Zeljko Sacic said, “The turnout shows that Croatia has turned its back on the EU. This referendum is illegitimate. We will never recognize it.”
Croatia is set to become the 28th member of the European Union on July 1, 2013, after all the bloc’s states ratify the deal.
By Annie Gallagher