ZAGREB – The people of Croatia yesterday voted in a referendum on whether to join the European Union in 2013, the BBC said. Opinion polls suggest around 60% of Croatians back entry into the EU, and all the major political parties are in favour of the move.
Opponents of the “yes” vote fear a loss of sovereignty, just two decades after Croatia became an independent state. But supporters say membership of the EU is the best option for the country in the long term. The country is currently suffering from high unemployment and other economic problems.
“Croatia will not lose its sovereignty or natural resources, nor will it be ruled by the EU,” President Ivo Josipovic said in a written statement to Croatians on Sunday. “Europe will not solve all our problems, but it’s a great opportunity.”
But on Saturday, about 1,000 protesters, many of them independence war veterans, gathered in Zagreb’s central square, carrying banners saying “No to EU’’ or “I love Croatia,’’ and chanting anti-EU slogans, Voice of America said. Using loudspeakers, activists demanded postponement of the vote, arguing that political leaders had failed to explain to citizens all that the EU entry entails. Police arrested several protesters who tried to take down an EU flag. News reports say a few people were injured during the clashes.