Due to bad experiences related to former enlargements, stricter criteria were set for Croatia. In the past, several candidate countries turned out to be unprepared at the moment of accession, which later caused serious problems not only for those countries, but to European Union as a whole. These criteria have one rule in common- Croatia has to fulfill them not only at the level of Member States that meet them to the minimum extent, but achieve the European average. This is what makes Croatia as 28th Member State, as well as 6th enlargement as a process, special. Out of numerous benchmarks Croatia had to cross, I will give you an overview of the five most important ones.
1. Human Rights
One of the most important tasks was to ensure Serbian refugees a safe return in Croatia, giving them back their homes, or at least adequate financial reparation, which has finally been enabled successfully. LGBT rights? In 2012. was held 11th Zagreb’s gay pride. Minorities’ rights? European Commission has finally expressed satisfaction. Still, at all the mentioned fields, there is room for future improvement.
2. Den Haag
Probably the most famous, as well as most emotional obstacle to the Croatian path. Six years after charges had been brought, in 2008 three generals – Gotovina, Cermak and Markac were facing criminal prosecution. The most popular sentence from that time: “To locate, to arrest, to transfer” by one of the longest- running Croatian politicians, member of a right- center party and creator of Croatian Constitution, Vladimir Šeks. Next important point- year 2011. General Cermak released, Gotovina sentenced to 24 years, Markac 18. Another popular sentence among the infuriated nation: “Entrance to EU was paid in Gotovina” (word gotovina also means cash in Croatian). Year and a half later- the unexpected twist. Both generals were released, and Oluja ( Storm) was no longer concerned an organized criminal operation. Right after having returned, general Gotovina gave an exclusive interview for a Serbian tabloid. The last famous sentence, and the one that closed an entire period for Croatia: “What would you say to the Serbs who fled the Croatia after the “Oluja”- I say to them to return to Croatia. They are Croatian citizens, it is their homeland as it is mine. ”
At this point, all the problems these two friendly countries had during that period seem ridiculous, but they were a serious obstacle to Croatian road to the EU. Border; Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone; savings of account holders in Ljubljanska Banka- some have been resolved by negotiation, and some were sent to international arbitration. Slovenian Parliament ratified the Croatian accession treaty in April 2013.
4. Rule of Law, Corruption, and Bureaucracy
These chapters were closed last, after a whole set of complex and strenuous actions. The respect of the first item, as well as a strong will for dealing with second, were shown by arrest of former Croatian prime minister, charged for corruption and bribery. Vast and inefficient bureaucracy still remains a huge problem, but at least the average European standards have been met.
Economy, that has been stated as the main criteria for entrance since the very moment of Croatian submission of the application, in 2005 all of a sudden turned out to be not as relevant as had been previously thought. Compared to certain countries that have entered that year, Croatian statistics were far above. After the beginning of the economic crisis, it seemed like it was going to be impossible to ever meet the European standards. Blessing in disguise, they have decreased as well. Still, even at this moment, many member states are skeptical about the improvement Croatia has made in that area, and a number of 350 045 unemployed is not really helping.
Author : ipwg