Croatia becomes the European Union’s 28th member at midnight on Sunday.
There will be a ceremony in the capital Zagreb but no major celebrations marking the historic milestone like the bloc’s previous expansions into ex-communist Eastern Europe.
EU entry has been widely welcomed but there is still anxiety over the state of the EU’s economy. Dr Paul Stubbs from Zagreb’s Institute of Economics said: “I think that benefit would only be if the union does not continue with this crazy, German-led, IMF-led, set of economic policies, which means there’s a strong core and a very weak periphery in Europe.”
Facing a fifth year of recession and record unemployment of 21 percent, few Croatians are in the mood for a party.
In a Zagreb street market, shopper Mane Valovic said: “People think that it (the European Union) is great and super, and that the grass is greener over there, but in fact, I think that the grass there is equally yellow, as it is here.”
But his fellow shopper Natasa Malovic expressed a tad more optimism: “Personally I am looking forward to (joining the) EU, because they told us the prices of food will fall. But in general, I have a split opinion about our accession to the European Union.”
Nonetheless, Croatia’s EU membership signifies a remarkable recovery – just over two deacdes after its independence declaration from federal Yugoslavia; the spark for a bloody war in which some 20,000 people died.