Croatian lawmakers ratify EU accession treaty
(ZAGREB) - The Croatian parliament on Friday unanimously ratified a treaty on the country's entry into the European Union, another step needed for Zagreb to formally join the bloc in mid-2013.
"After 20 years (since independence) the time has come to round up our state," Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told the deputies presenting the treaty.
"This is that important moment, we have achieved a goal, we got an important means to achieve a better life and a higher level of security, the rest is on us," he stressed.
All 136 deputies present in the 151-seat parliament backed the treaty which was signed in Brussels last December, five months after conclusion of Croatia's lengthy and often thorny accession talk.
In a January referendum, some 66 percent of Croatians supported their country's EU entry.
Before Croatia formally joins the EU, which is set for July 1, 2013, the accession treaty has to be ratified by all 27 member states. So far it has been done by five countries -- Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy and Malta.
Croatian leaders have labeled EU entry as the country's strategic goal since it proclaimed independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, a move that triggered a four-year war with rebel Serbs.
Of the six former Yugoslav republics -- Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia -- only the last is an EU member, since 2004.
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