President Ivo Josipovic was among the first to cast his vote in Croatia’s referendum on joining the EU. He backed entry into the bloc and the country has followed his example. It means Croatia will now become the 28th member.
The EU has said the Adriatic country can join officially on July 1 2013 after completing seven years of tough entry talks in June last year.
Croatia was left out of the EU’s expansion to ex-communist eastern Europe in 2004 and 2007.
The turn out is believed to be low but there is no binding minimum for the referendum to be deemed valid. Sixty seven percent had ticked yes with under half the votes counted.
The ‘No’ camp had highlighted the debt crisis threatening the single currency while others questioned what membership could do for the country of almost four and a half million.
Croatia’s economy which saw strong growth in the last decade has been hit hard by the global downturn. Analysts believe if voters had rejected the chance to join the bloc it would have dampened any prospect of a quick recovery.