Croatia – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:11:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.10 Croatian referendum to introduce discrimination in their constitution /croatian-referendum-to-introduce-discrimination-in-their-constitution/ /croatian-referendum-to-introduce-discrimination-in-their-constitution/#comments Sun, 01 Dec 2013 09:10:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=817 Croatia, the newest member of the EU, is today having a referendum that aims to modify their constitution for the first time in 22 years. The change in constitution is to include a sentence that specifies that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. and it is a clear attack to the movement for equal marriage that has been gaining battles all over Europe.

This referendum is the last step of a whole campaign launched by an NGO created ad hoc by a woman called Zeljka Markic, which is the visible face of this initiative. In fact she is the only visible face, while the rest is as obscure as they can. After some research, it has been revealed that the most reactionary groups of the Catholic church are behind this initiative.

Zeljka Markic speaking in front of cameras

The movement called themselves “in the name of the family”, mirroring similar groups that tried to block equal marriage in countries like Spain and France, and managed to gather a small army of volunteers to collect 740.000 signatures to force the government to call for this referendum.

The question that is asked in the referendum is:

Are you in favor of implementing into the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia a regulation that marriage is a life community between man and a woman?

The referendum takes place today, Dec 1st, and the campaign preceding the voting has been really harsh, using manipulative messages to convince people to vote in favour. Moreover, the opposition parties are using this issue to erode the government, which is against this reform. Public personalities from fields such as sports, culture or arts, have also positioned themselves.

The expected result of the referendum will be in favour, therefore including the sentence in the Constitution and blocking the possibility of equal marriage in Croatia. This could be changed if the traditional lack of participation of young people is reverted. If you are Croatian, I would like to quote Zeljka Markic, since she finishes every of her speeches with: “Join us on Sunday to celebrate together the festival of democracy!”: So move your ass, go and vote! You can still avoid staining your constitution with such a discriminatory sentence!

Written by Miguel Gallardo, Project Director of AEGEE-Europe

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Welcome, Croatia! /croatia-eu-welcome/ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 16:10:06 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=644 During the last week of June we have been warming up for welcoming Croatia in the European Union: the European institutions have focused big part of their communication in introducing the new member to the rest of the club through figures, infographics and cool videos highlighting the assets of Croatia or sharing the impressions of some relevant European politicians (part 1 and Part 2), or promoting the whole idea of enlargement itself.

 

Commissioners welcoming Croatia (click to see video)

Moreover. the European Commission held a Youth conference in Zagreb last week, where 80 AEGEE members, and dozens of young Europeans from other NGOs, could meet representatives of the European Commission, the European Youth Forum, and other stakeholders from the European and national (Croatian) level. Topics as entrepreneurship and unemployment, the challenges for the Croatian youth in the new reality, or the advantages and disadvantages of a Croatia inside the EU28 were some of the raised topics. There was also time for a creativity workshop where European youth had to prepare videos with positive messages about enlargement. The results were impressive and gave bright ideas which maybe we will see implemented in future EU campaigns.

Today, Croatia closes a chapter in its history and opens a new one, one where Croatians will be part again of something bigger. For some people, the shadow of the Yugoslavian past is still felt. There are those who fear a dilution of national identity. But the EU is different to Yugoslavia, in the EU28 diversity is an added value, art and culture will be celebrated, and the language will be preserved.

Croatia comes however with a list of challenges that cannot be ignored. Youth unemployment over 50% makes it third of the EU28 list, after Spain and Greece. while 5 years of recession have weakened the economy. The enthusiasm for the EU has decreased lately and in the first elections for the EP representatives from today until the next EP elections, only 20% of Croatians went to vote. Finally, there is a risk that a EU who is fighting back the current crisis situation cannot deliver for the high expectations that some Croatians have raised on the accession. On its benefit, the small size of the country should ease the whole process of assimilation of the new country.

There are also reasons to believe that the accession of Croatia is good news. Looking back just 20 years ago, Croatia was being devastated by a war. The EU was created to restore trust among nations and to provide a durable peace, and the accession of Croatia is an encouraging message to other ex-Yugoslavian republics to speed up the process and make themselves ready for the EU. The real end of the Yugoslav wars will be when they all belong to the EU and they will solve their differences through negotiations and diplomacy. Do not take me for a fool; I know it will not be an easy process and neither a fast one.

Some people are wondering what can be the benefit of the accession for the rest of the EU. We have had Croatians inside AEGEE for more than 20 years and we have seen how big contribution they can make to building Europe from a youth perspective. Now it will be the EU28 who will have the opportunity to bring out the great potential of the Croatian citizens in benefit of all the European Union.

 

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European Elections in Croatia: Back to the future? /european-elections-in-croatia-back-to-the-future/ Fri, 19 Apr 2013 08:06:01 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=594 Most of the Europeans would be surprised to know that more than one year before the European Parliament (EP) elections in spring 2014, there has been an effective voting for electing MEPs.

Yes, it did happen, and the reason is simple: with the accession of Croatia as a Member State the 1st of July of 2013, the election of 12 ew MEP was needed, in order to represent the country in the EU democratic institution. So far Croatia was only present in the EP as non-voting observers. For the first time in history, Croatians have been called to cast their vote and elect their representatives to the EU. However, the poor score of the elections in terms of participation (20.74% of voters, almost breaching the former 19.63% record of Slovakia in 2009) brings again to the scenario the worrying trend that the EP elections are following from the celebration of the first of them in 1979: a progressive loose of the percentage of people voting, which reached the bottom with only 43.24% of all voters practicing their right in 2009.

The consideration of the EP elections as “second order” elections is not new; it is highly noticeable that the national and regional elections normally have a bigger turnout than European ones. In this case there is another factor that adds to this consideration: the candidates now elected will stay in their seats for less than one year, until the 2014 EP elections. The problems in Slovenia, and specially the perception that belonging to EU has not kept their neighbors free of the financial crisis, can also be behind the poor percentage.

The low participation is worrying in terms of the lack of involvement and interest of the EU citizens on the European issues. In spite of the communication efforts of the European Union, that in 2009 launched the biggest campaign ever seen for EP elections, the results were lower than ever. There is also the question of to what extent the members elected are legitimated to represent their country since, in the case of Croatia, only one out of each five electors have voted.

In AEGEE we are aware of this situation, and take what happened now in the newest EU member as a potential anticipation of what may happen in one year from now. The institutions at every level should also take note and put the appropriate efforts to revert the trend. We in AEGEE have done our homework and, through the recently approved project Y Vote 2014, we will foster participation of young voters through different activities, remarking the importance of voting in the elections not only as a duty but as a right. Our intention is to make voting in EP elections the first step what will give the society a bigger involvement in the decision making process.

The case of this elections in Croatia can be an isolated one, or on the contrary it can be the pattern that will define the results on the coming elections. Taking the motto of our project, It is up to You(th) to have a more active participation that will contribute to change this trend.

Written by Javier Mendoza Jiménez ( AEGEE-Tenerife and Yvote 2014)

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