On Monday, Croatia became the 28th country to join the European Union. While its accession may not appear that significant — it is home to only 4.5 million people and is not even as large as West Virginia — it demonstrates the ongoing attraction of joining a powerful bloc.
The New York Times reports that “the incentive of joining the union pushed it to revamp a statist post-Communist economy, pass more than 350 laws and arrest more than a dozen Croatian and Bosnian-Croat war criminals.”
Given current conditions in Croatia — unemployment is close to 20 percent, youth unemployment is over 50 percent and the country’s credit rating has been “junk” as of this past December — some Croats believe that they can only benefit by integrating into the EU.
That judgment, however, is far from universal. In the coastal city of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO world heritage site where my family and I have been visiting the past few days, virtually all of the people I’ve spoken with — young and old, occupying a wide range of professions — were either indifferent or opposed to the move. In fact, despite (or perhaps because of) the heightened scrutiny that’s being foisted on Croatia, many of them sounded like they wanted nothing more than to be left alone.