What a cruel irony it would be if the Croatian people fought hard to leave one Yugoslavia, only to join another – the European Union – writes UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.
•In 1991, Croatia voted in a referendum - in which a staggering 93 per cent of voters backed independence. When the Yugoslav government refused to acknowledge the referendum, a war broke out in which Croatia lost the equivalent casualties to five consecutive 9/11 attacks.
In light of this struggle for independence, I find it baffling that Croatia would want to throw itself into the captivity of European Union membership. Sadly, that is precisely what they have done. As a representative of a party that wants my country to leave the EU, I find it especially bewildering.
The EU is bad for Croatia. The vast sums of European funding that will come in the form of subsidies and regional funding will 'disappear'. In a report by the Financial Transparency Coalition, Croatia was found to rank below even sub-Saharan countries like Namibia in terms of financial honesty.
Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was jailed last year for taking bribes and the experience of other accession countries is that vast sums of money are a temptation that can bring out the worst in public servants.
In March 2013, former Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naidenov was charged with corruption for his involvement in an EU food distribution scheme. It can also stoke up organised criminal activity. Indeed, the Bulgarian mafia was particularly happy to see the country join the EU. One imagines the Croatian mob will be similarly grateful.
Croatia is also bad for the EU. It is a poor country with unemployment topping 20 per cent. Many of Croatia's people will leave to seek pastures new, primarily in richer countries like Germany where 250,000 Croats already live. Evidence shows a large diaspora attracts further immigration from that community. This will depress wages in the destination countries in other parts of Europe and lead to community tensions rising - a situation nobody wants.
It would also add to the already intolerable pressure on housing, hospital beds and translation services. We have already seen this happen after the accession of Poland in 2004. As pressure builds due to more immigration, somewhat less savoury characters could exploit this.
As Croatia joins the EU, it also signals to other ex-Yugoslav republics that they should do the same. Other Balkan leaders reacted enthusiastically to the accession and signalled they wished to follow in Croatia's footsteps. They included Bosnia, which has unemployment levels of 40 per cent. Bosnia is also home to Islamic extremists, many of whom fought in the civil war.
They were rewarded with Bosnian citizenship afterwards. If it joins the EU its citizens, including these less savoury ones, could come to Britain. Let us not forget that Abu Hamza - or 'Captain Hook' - was active in Bosnia before coming to Britain. The last thing the United Kingdom needs is an influx of Balkan Islamists such as Mevlid Jasarevic, an Islamist gunman who opened fire on the United States embassy in Sarajevo in 2011.
I spoke earlier of the Croatian independence referendum in 1991. In that, there was 83 per cent turnout and a 93 per cent 'independence' vote. Contrast this with the referendum to join the EU in 2012. Just 43 per cent of voters showed up to record a 66 per cent vote in favour of the union. In other words, just 28 per cent of Croatians dragged their ancient country into the EU.
Ominously, Maks Tajnikar, a senior economist in Slovenia, has compared the EU to the former Yugoslavia. What a cruel irony it would be if the Croatian people fought hard to leave one Yugoslavia, only to join another.
Godfrey Bloom is a UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire