- Title: CROATIA: Croats look forward to benefits of EU membership.
- Date: 24th January 2012
- Summary: PEOPLE WALKING IN STREET EUROPEAN UNION FLAG IN FRONT OF BUILDING IN MAIN SQUARE
- Embargoed: 8th February 2012 12:00
- Location: Croatia, Croatia
- Country: Croatia
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAF2FL890Y0KBZ5FV79AVF1FCV
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Croats express cautious optimism following a referendum which endorsed the country's accession to the European Union.
Croatians interviewed on Monday (January 23) in Zagreb, tentatively welcomed the outcome of a referendum which showed voters' clear support for their nation's bid to become a member of the European Union (EU).
Croatia's economy has been hit hard by the global economic crisis and the country hopes that EU membership might help its recovery.
Vladimir Majcen, an art historian from Zagreb, said it would take a generational change before the benefits of membership would be seen.
"Not a lot (will improve by entering EU), because Croatian mentality needs to change, Croatian brains. Nothing will happen overnight, at least an entire generation needs to change, the whole mentality of the Croatian people," Majcen said.
An accountant from Zagreb said she hoped EU membership would provide more opportunities for young people.
"I hope it will be better for young people, that they will have more opportunities. They will (be able to) move about here and there (around EU countries)... Once they finish their studies it will perhaps be better for them," Ivana said.
In the referendum on Sunday (January 22) Croatians backed the country's accession to the bloc with 66 percent of voters voting 'Yes' and 33 percent voting against.
The referendum was marked by a low turnout, with only 44 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots.
Croatia is expected to become European Union's 28th member in 2013, after completing seven years of accession negotiations in June 2011.
It would become only the second former Yugoslav republic to join, following Slovenia in 2004.
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