- Title: CROATIA: Croatia votes to join EU in 2013, despite crisis
- Date: 24th January 2012
- Summary: ZAGREB, CROATIA ( JANUARY 22, 2012) (REUTERS) EUROPEAN UNION FLAG WAVING IN FRONT OF CROATIAN PARLIAMENT EU AND CROATIAN FLAGS ABOVE ENTRANCE TO CROATIAN PARLIAMENT CROATIAN PRESIDENT IVO JOSIPOVIC SURROUNDED BY MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT AND AMBASSADORS MUSICIANS TWO MEN LOOKING AT REFERENDUM RESULT ON SCREEN MUSICIAN PRIME MINISTER ZORAN MILANOVIC SHAKING HANDS WITH MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT MUSICIANS
- Embargoed: 8th February 2012 12:00
- Location: Croatia, Croatia
- Country: Croatia
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2ZCCIJ95FIMXOBMINKD6ET2E9
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Sixty-six percent vote in favour after government says European Union offers only chance of economic recovery.
Croatia voted on Sunday (January 22) to join the European Union next year, shrugging off concerns over the economic turmoil in the bloc and fears that membership will compromise its hard-won sovereignty.
Provided all 27 member states ratify its accession, the Adriatic state will enter the EU on July 1, 2013, more than two decades after breaking away from socialist Yugoslavia and fighting a 1991-95 war to secure independence.
It will become the second former Yugoslav republic to join the EU, following Slovenia in 2004.
Sixty-six percent ticked "Yes" in the referendum, the state electoral commission said with almost all votes counted.
"This a turning point in our history and we will be responsible for our own decisions. Success or failure now depends solely on us," Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told reporters.
Turnout, however, was low, at 44 percent of eligible voters, well below the resounding votes of many former communist countries that joined in 2004 and 2007.
That figure appeared to reflect widespread uncertainty among Croats over what membership will really mean.
But the result suggested the EU had not completely lost its appeal in the struggling western Balkans despite the debt crisis that is threatening the single currency.
"The integration of Croatia in the European Union now is the best possible signal towards the other countries in the region," said Head of the European delegation to Croatia Paul Vandoren.
Many Croats hope accession will mark a clear break with the region's recent past of war and nationalism, and help its weak economy through EU funds and full access to the bloc's common market.
The slow pace of reform in the rest of the western Balkans, and waning enthusiasm within the EU for further enlargement, mean other countries in Croatia's neighbourhood - such as Serbia, Bosnia and Albania - will wait years before they too can join. Tiny Montenegro on the Adriatic coast is next in line.
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