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Croatia Will Probably Delay EU Entry Referendum, Pusic Says

Croatia’s new government will seek to delay a referendum on European Union entry because of time constraints following Dec. 4 elections, said Vesna Pusic, who is slated to be the next foreign minister.

The Balkan country will sign an EU accession treaty on Dec. 9 in Brussels. It is scheduled to hold a referendum within 30 days of that date, according to a parliamentary decree. Changing the timing of the referendum “most likely to February, and by the end of March at the latest” will be one of the first things the new government in Zagreb will do, Pusic said by phone today.

“It would be irresponsible to hold a referendum without solid preparations,” said Pusic, a co-leader of the Croatian People’s Party, one of the four parties in a coalition that won 80 seats in the 151-member legislature. “It also wouldn’t be good to hold a referendum so soon after the elections, which is always a conflicting event.”

Croatia concluded negotiations with the world’s biggest trading bloc in June after five years of talks and is scheduled to join the EU in July 2013. Croatia’s accession also needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all 27 current member states.

Support for EU membership remained stable in Croatia at 53 percent in September, according to an IPSOS-Puls survey of 1,000 people. No margin of error was given.

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