16th-17th May 2011: Round Table organised by European House, Dubrovnik, involving students the Chamber of the Economy and NGOs.
This was an opportunity for each member present to introduce himself.
“Dobro jutro. Ja se zovem Andrew Brons. Jesam iz Velika Britanja.
(Good morning. I am called Andrew Brons. I am from Great Britain)
"I’m afraid that that is the extent of my Croatian so I shall proceed in English.
"We have been told this morning that Croatia is to join the EU. However, there has been no mention of the referendum that will be held to decide whether or not that happens. The agreement of the Croatian people is being taken for granted and they are being treated with great disrespect.
"There is a lot of talk about telling the people about the advantages of EU membership but none about the disadvantages. This tells us something about the way in which the referendum will be conducted.
"We have been told that we should feel as though we were in Europe, when we are in Dubrovnik but we are in Europe! Croatia is as much part of Europe as France or Germany or the United Kingdom. It is the European Union that Croatia has yet to join. Europe and the European Union are not the same thing. I am proud to be part of Europe but I am not proud to be part of the European Union. Why?
"It involves a serious encroachment on the sovereignty – the independence – of member states. Between 70 and 80% of UK laws originate with the EU. It would be bad if the laws covered only trade and commerce. However, they extend to laws enforcing social liberalism that are not consistent with the views of a socially conservative country like Croatia. Furthermore, these laws involve restrictions on freedom of speech. The EU has the cheek to check Croatia’s democratic credentials when existing EU countries imprison people for what they say and even ban political parties. I am not aware that Croatia has banned any political parties, since it won its independence twenty years ago.
"I had better stop there before I become controversial."