It’s amazing what sometimes slips past the major news; not only in the US, but also in Europe. It appears that earlier this year, on March 31, at 15:00 PST, Istria joined the European Union. This may not seem like a big deal to many people out there, but in actuality it is for several reasons. For one thing, these announcements are usually quite big and happen at the beginning of the year as was the case in Bulgaria and Romania this year. But it seems that they just sort of slipped this one through for some reason that was as unknown to me as to why they joined only the very western portion of Croatia and not the rest. As far as I had heard, the country was slated to join in 2009, but it appears that wonders will never cease.
There has been precedence for this in the case where only Greek Cyprus joined the EU and not Turkish Cyprus. Even still, I was amazed by this until I talked to some of the locals here who told me that due to the fact that so many people in the area already had Italian and Slovenian citizenship, it just seemed natural to pull the area in to the union and make things simpler. Also, because the region is full of Italians, Germans, Austrians, Slovenes, Czechs, and Dutch who are all part of the union, they felt that it would be in everyone’s best interest to extend the EU to cover this area so that those on holiday would still maintain all the protections they enjoyed back home.
This really didn’t seem like that sound of a logic to me as it would be like joining California with Canada. I refused to believe it until I went back in to Croatia and found that the border crossing was just like coming in to Croatia. No stamps. No hassle. It was like passing from Italy to France. The only people who were getting bothered were those with Croatian plates, since this new membership for Istria has given it something of a weird border status, seeing as how it is still part of Croatia, but now part of a greater Europe. Thus, anyone Croatian was suspect for bringing in European goods above the allowable limit and unless they were Istrian, were immediately suspect, just like old times.
All in all, I am very intrigued by all of this and wonder what is going to happen and if this means that EU membership for Croatia is going to be accelerated? More information to follow, I’m sure.