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Croatia enters the EU

July 2nd, 2013

An opposition daily welcomes Croatia’s EU membership as a stabilizing factor in the Balkans, while a liberal commentator warns that Croatia may prove unable to defend its producers from German and Austrian competitors.

Népszabadság’s, Eszter Zalán believes EU membership is the only safe solution to the ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, which erupted into bloody wars in the 1990s, when she says, the EU “botched” its diplomatic efforts. The EU may be “tired of enlargement negotiations”, she continues, but Croatia’s entry can boost the image of the European Union. As to the strong Hungarian support for a yes to Croatia, she suggests the returns on that diplomatic effort would be a new liquid gas terminal in Croatia, allowing Hungary to diversify its gas import markets.

In HVG, a conservative analyst has a different take on Croatia’s accession. Although Peter Techet agrees that Croatia’s membership “is but the first step in the integration process of the Balkan countries”, the immediate results for Croats might be disappointing. By now, “the party is just about over”, he says, the early utopian dreams have given way to sober realism, and Croats are aware of this. The message of the EU to Croatia is “welcome to cheaper goods” – indeed, Croatian companies, Techet predicts, will be ‘crushed’ by German and Austrian competitors. And in a country with unemployment over 20%, that is a sad perspective. On the other hand, the free movement of labour will benefit Croatians. Some 350 thousand Croats work in Germany and Austria already. Europe has just begun to face its new problems and is unlikely to proceed with the enlargement process in the near future, the author concludes. But with Croatia on board, there is a chance for the Balkan region, as all current political leaders want to join in, to strengthen their ties with the EU.

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