Thursday, March 17, 2005

Seriously underwhelmed

It is an article of faith amongst a certain brand of Europhiles that the eagerness of neighbouring states to join the EU demonstrates who wonderful the project really is. It cannot be too bad if so many countries are queuing up to join – so the refrain goes.

What price then the response of Croatia, which has had talks on its application to join the evil empire "suspended" sine die because the Zagreb government has not sent fugitive former general Ante Gotovina to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

According to AP there had been fears of a nationalist backlash and even a wave of collective depression. But a day after the EU the announcement, Croats were nursing their "disappointment" with a sense of humour.

"EU-thanasia," the popular weekly Feral Tribune splashed on its front page Thursday, with a photomontage of foreign minister Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic lying on a hospital bed, applying an ice-pack to her forehead.

Radio commentators quipped that nothing could stop Croatia from moving closer to the EU - citing seismological research that showed tectonic movements were shifting Croatia 15 mm to the northwest every year.

But Alen Orlovic, a computer technician, was more forthright. "If they don't want us, we don't need them either," he says. "We should become a neutral country oriented toward tourism, ecology and producing organic food."

The only person to spoil the fun was a po-faced psychologist who intoned that the news might be "traumatic for politicians, but it's hard to say how ordinary people are dealing with the news." His view was that some people may be using humour to disguise their frustration, while others may have already gone beyond it. "Poking fun" was their way of moving on.

There again, maybe they just see the funny side.

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