[JURIST] Croatian citizens voted in favor [press release, PDF] of joining the EU on Sunday, despite poor turnout for the referendum. With nearly all of the ballots counted [AP report], 66 percent voted in favor of Croatia's membership in the EU with 33 percent voting against. The remaining 1 percent of the ballots were invalid. Approximately 47 percent of eligible voters participated in the decision. Turnout was among the lowest of EU member states that held accession referendums prior to joining the EU. In response to the referendum, the EU released a statement: "with this vote, Croatia's citizens have given their endorsement to European integration. We congratulate Croatia and its people on their choice: EU membership will open up new opportunities for them and help secure the stability and prosperity of their nation." Croatia will become the EU's twenty-eighth member on July 1, 2013.
Last month, the Croatian government signed a treaty [JURIST report] to finalize its EU accession. The signing ceremony consisted of speeches by leaders of the EU and Croatia, as well as signing of the treaty by the 27 other member countries. The EU gave final approval [JURIST report] to Croatian membership in June after six years of negotiations. The EU suspended accession talks [JURIST report] in 2005 when it felt Croatia was not cooperating fully with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia investigations into war crimes against its former military officers.