Croatia, the twenty-eighth member of the elite club.
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Croatia is set to become the EU’s 28th member state on 1 July 2013.
The proposal was passed, symbolically on the second anniversary of entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, with an overwhelming majority and welcomed with a standing ovation in the plenary chamber.
The European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek highlighted that it was “a good day for Croatia and the EU”, and added “the European Parliament had thrown its full weight behind Croatia’s EU accession.
We have given a clear sign of the extent to which the EU wants Croatia”.
They say the people do not really know what to expect and that opinion polls show a huge question mark as to what will happen.
Then let me map out Croatia’s near future.
Visiting Croatia, as part of Yugoslavia, in 1969, I was astonished at the politeness and goodwill of its people, I was amazed by its wonderful cuisine with its gargantuan portions for an absurdly low price, I wondered at its marvelous scenery, its lakes, its cities, its coastline, its Roman antiquities.
And what really fascinated me about the now ex-Yugoslavia was the marriage of different Slavic cultures and families and ethnicities.
Croatians married with Slovenians, married with Serbs, Macedonians, Bosnians, Montenegrins, each with their own version of “Serbo-Croat” using “Tchirilitsa” or “Latinitsa” in their writing, marrying cultures and customs and lores and cuisine, marrying tradition and living happily side by side.
Then came the 1990s, then came the foreign invasion of Yugoslavia, then came the hatred, the division, the killing.
I could not understand it at the time because the reality was divorced from what I had seen, the human factor had warped into something sinister I could not find in my contact with the wonderfully friendly and interesting people I met.
It was not something Yugoslavian, it was not Croatian and it was not Serbian.
And now Croatia has walked straight into the Euro-trap. If the Croatian politicians and people do not know what to expect, then let us tell them.
For a start, expect a wonderful period of back-slapping and congratulations, welcome parties to the Euro-club as your political elites discover another echelon of jobs for the boys as your hard-earned cash is spent on trips to Malta which could be performed by SKYPE, endless studies and projects ordered from companies whose owners are close to the centre of power, and so on.
Slowly but steadily you will see infra-structure projects popping up like mushrooms across your country and everyone will say wow, how great it is to be a member of the European Union.
But slowly, yet steadily, you will see your factories closing, you will see your agriculture reduced to nothing as farmers are paid to sit on their backsides scratching themselves, you will see your fisheries vessels beached, as fisherman are paid to scratch themselves, sitting on their backsides on land.
As these three areas of your economy dry out totally, jobs upstream and downstream will disappear, and you will experience something like 40% youth unemployment within a few years.
Your education system will become a business, you will be importing everything from France and Germany, prices will sky-rocket. They will not ask for your opinion on anything and if they do and you dare to vote against what they want, the vote will be repeated ad nauseam until the “no’s” give up, probably on a sunny Summer day when everyone goes to the beach.
Then they will prepare you for the Euro. Overnight, your ATM machines will block (on Friday) and when you wake up on the Monday morning, you will be withdrawing crisp little Euro notes.
Within days your prices will double or treble and your salaries will remain the same….maybe.