With Crimeans recently voting in a referendum to break away from the Ukraine and join Russia, Scotland set to have a referendum to become independent from the United Kingdom, and the Catalonians about to hold a referendum on independence from Spain, the region of Dalmatia have followed suit this week, by officially seeking to set a referendum date for independence from Croatia…
The majority of those residing in the region of Dalmatia, which stretches along Croatia’s spectacular central and southern Adriatic coast, are Dalmatian. Over history, Dalmatia has been ruled over by a number of regimes, from the Ottoman, Venetian and Roman empires – to Yugoslavia, and today Croatia. The Dalmatian people have become increasingly disgruntled with the current regime and centralised power, and want to stop ‘sending their tax income generated from toursim to Zagreb to line the political bureaucrat’s pockets in the capital’ while the people in Dalmatia suffer and struggle to feed their families. Currently tourism income generated from the region of Dalmatia makes up nearly 25% of Croatia’s total GDP.
An article under the UN and European Convention on Human Rights states that regions heavily populated by one ethnic group can seek to hold a referendum on the status of independence. The article states that a 75% majority in the referendum is required for it to be successful and officially recognised. The proposed date for the referendum on Dalmatia’s independence is 31 November 2014. Political parties in Zagreb however, are moving fast to set up campaigns to promote the status quo, as they have a lot at stake.
Current Croatian President Ivo Josipović, who is a Dalmatian himself, has reportedly supported the referendum proposal. If the referendum is successful, Josipović, who is originally from Baška Voda on the Dalmatian coast, may run for the Dalmatian presidency. The EU however have warned Dalmatian authorities that independence from Croatia would not trigger automatic entry into the EU for its citizens.
One high-ranking Dalmatian official said that in the likelihood of the referendum being successful, the region would be forced to drop the current Kuna currency. Digital currency Bitcoin is believed to be a likely contender for the new currency. Famous Dalmatian singers Miso Kovač and Oliver Dragojević have agreed to perform a free concert at Split’s Poljud stadium in May to celebrate the declaration of independence.