Croatia is set to become the 28th member of the European union in July 2013.
The ex-Yugoslav state was rewarded with the membership following deep economic and democratic reforms.
EU politicians hope Croatia’s membership will persuade other countries in the Balkans that reforms pay off, and will accelerate democratic transition in the region which was torn by ethnic wars in the 1990’s.
The Croatian President says he’s proud of the achievement.:
“Croatia is the first new member of the EU which during its transition towards membership had to overcome the difficult legacy of war.” He said. “This makes Croatia’s success even greater. For this very reason, in this time of a profound crisis in Europe, the European Union can also proudly congratulate itself…”
Croatia which has a population of just over 4 million began EU accession talks six years ago. There were earlier concerns over corruption in the country, and of its slow progress in coming to terms with the legacy of the Balkans wars. The deal was finally secured with a last minute push by outgoing prime minister, Jadranka Kosor.
Many Croatians hope that EU membership will help the country, but there was a small protest with how some who worried that the country would be lost within the leviathan of the EU.