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    Croatia's accession treaty will be signed in December. [Reuters]

    Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk arrived in Zagreb on Saturday (September 17th) to bring the draft of the EU accession treaty to Croatia. The document will be signed in December, opening the way for Croatia to become a full EU member in 2013.

    "When Croatia joins the EU, it is going to be an important influx of optimism and confidence for the future of the EU," Tusk said at a press conference after the meeting.

    Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said that by getting this draft of the EU accession treaty, Croatia has finally achieved its strategic and historic goal. But there are a lot of things left to be done, not only because EU requires them, but also because Croatia should achieve them for the country's own good.

    "Looking back, Croatia went through many difficulties not experienced by other member countries. Croatia's delay … was of political nature, and it took quite an amount of luck, wit and courage to sustain it," political expert Vedran Obucina told SETimes.

    "Croatia needs to stick to the reforms even more than before. It is the only way to avoid unnecessary sanctions, like happened in Bulgaria."

    SDP MP Tonino Picula told SETimes that he was appalled by the fact that Tusk's visit was sparsely covered by local news outlets.

    "I think this is the indicator of the situation we are in; but I am also quite sure and I hope that this public arrogance and the indifference is pointed at the current government, not at the EU itself," Picula said.

    Although support for the country's accession has waned slightly, many in Croatia support the move.

    "I am looking forward to the fact that Croatia is finally ending the EU negotiation story. I … want my children to have the opportunity to study abroad, have foreign experiences and learn about life in the EU. That is what EU should be all about," Zagreb resident Anamarija Tokic told SETimes.

    However, Picula pointed out no candidate country has been in a situation like the one Croatia is currently facing. During the past year — in the final phases of EU accession — the ruling party has been the subject of many controversies.

    Beginning in 2009, authorities uncovered one of the biggest embezzlement scandals in the country. Eight people were arrested, suspected of misusing 54m euros from local food producer Podravka. Among those accused is former Deputy Prime Minister Damir Polancec, who resigned amid the scandal.

    "In a way, Kosor has the same political destiny in this moment as [former Prime Minister Ivica Racan]: they both did very important tasks on the EU front in the last months of their mandates, and then lost the parliamentary elections," Picula said, alluding to the upcoming December vote.

    http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2011/09/20/feature-02

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