Croatians vote on EU entry in key referendum
Croatia votes on Sunday in a nationwide referendum on joining the European Union, a vote that political leaders see as key for the future of the Balkan country 20 years after independence. Ahead of the vote, surveys showed around 60 per cent of Croatians back entry into the European Union, paving the way for the former Yugoslav republic to formally join the bloc in 2013.
President Ivo Josipovic has described the vote as “one of the most important decisions in Croatia’s history”.
Croatia’s leaders say that entering the bloc has been a strategic goal since Zagreb won its hard-fought independence following the 1991-95 war with rebel Serbs and will confirm a break from the volatile Balkans region.
The importance of EU membership is one of the few issues on which all major Croatian political parties agree.
Of the six former Yugoslav republics Slovenia is the only EU member, although Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia all want to join.
In a surprise move late Saturday former general Ante Gotovina, whose flight from the UN tribunal hampered Croatia’s EU bid, urged citizens to cast a ‘yes’ vote.
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