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article imageCroatia joins the EU amidst economic recession and unemployment

By Anne Sewell     Jun 30, 2013 in World
Zagreb - As the country endures its fifth year of recession and record unemployment of 21%, Croatia will be officially recognized as the latest, brand-new EU member as at midnight on Sunday.
On Sunday at midnight, Croatia will be welcomed into the EU Bloc, becoming the 28th state to join the union.
A grand ceremony is planned in the capital Zagreb with 170 foreign officials, including 13 prime ministers and 15 heads of state in attendance.
Among the speakers at the event are European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
Thousands of people are expected to join in the party across the country tonight. In Zagreb, artists will perform for EU and regional leaders until the stroke of midnight, when a fireworks display and the singing of Beethoven's Ode to Joy - EU's anthem - will mark the official entry into the EU.
Ivo Josipovic, Croatia's president told the local Nova TV, “We also believe that the EU has a future.”
However, reportedly there is not quite such a festive mood among the Croatian public, as the country endures its fifth year of recession, with record unemployment of 21%.
Josipovic told The Associated Press in a recent interview, "There are not too many festivities because the general situation is not brilliant."
"We have to develop our economy, take care of those people who are jobless now, and there is no time and money for big celebrations," he added.
Many believe that the former Yugoslav state will actually become a burden to the EU, with its own heavy economic problems. They feel that the country may likely repeat the sad fate of the bloc’s southern members Portugal, Greece and Spain.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz referred to the joining of Croatia into the EU as a "historic day."
"EU membership will offer no magic solution to the crisis," he said in a statement. "But it will help to lift many people out of poverty and modernize the economy. "
However, Occupy Croatia, part of the worldwide Occupy protest movement, is planning an anti-EU march on Sunday evening.
A statement from a spokesman read that "the European Union is not a solution to our problems."
"The entry into the European Union is an economic genocide over the people living in our country," the group said, referring to the EU as a "union tailored for rich corporations and their politicians."
But some say that another way of looking at things is that by joining the bloc, it means Croatians could find jobs in more prosperous EU countries and their country could attract more foreign investment.
It is also thought that the EU's leadership in Brussels could help to prevent economic mismanagement and widespread corruption in check.
Nino Vidic, a Zagreb resident, told the media: "We really had no choice."
"Croatia is a small country, and logically as a Catholic country, we strive toward the West."
However, the celebrations are overshadowed by an extradition row with Germany.
Up until now, Zagreb has refused to hand over an alleged ex-spy to Berlin.
The story goes back to what was then West Germany. Josip Perkovic is wanted in connection with the killing of Stjepan Djurekovic, an exiled Croatian dissident, 20 years ago.
It seems Croatia will not be bound by the EU arrest warrant until July 1 when the country joins the bloc. However the Croatian government has proposed changing the law to exclude handing over its citizens for crimes committed before August 2002.
Besides that little scandal, there is also the furor in the EU parliament over the revelations that the NSA has been spying on EU diplomats in Washington, New York and Brussels.
Digital Journal is following the story as the EU now demands "full clarification" over the NSA spying.
Welcome to the EU club Croatia.
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