It is quite a day for Croatia, which is a fully-fledged EU member from this morning, the first member state to join since 2007.
Less than two decades ago civil war came within missile range of Zagreb, but now 4.4 million Croats join Slovenia, the only other former Yugoslavian state to have gained admission.
“There’ll be automatic benefits; It’ll introduce responsibility, work and discipline, things which you need for everything to work properly. Without this, there’s nothing,” said small businessman Mladen Knez.
EU and Croat officials inaugurated an ultra-modern marble-and glass Europe House in the centre of the capital to mark the occasion.
“Some time ago, together with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, and the President of the European Council, we received the Nobel peace prize on behalf of the European Union. It was precisely about this idea of a reconciled, united, Europe, that we were thinking,” said EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
After five years of recession Croatia may be keen to make the most of the relationship straight away and many are seeing entry as a chance to revive the stagnant economy.
Brief history of Croatia
- 1918- after WWI, the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed.
- 1929- King Alexander I renamed the country Yugoslavia
- 1941 – 1945- years of the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi satellite state during the WWII
- 1945- the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was declared
- 7 April, 1963- Yugoslavia is renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Josip Broz Tito is named president for life
- 4 May, 1980- Tito dies
- 25 June 1991- Croatia and Slovenia declare independence
- 8 October, 1991- Croatia restates its independence in the Croatian Parliament. That day is celebrated as Independence Day in Croatia.
- 15 January, 1992- Croatia (and Slovenia) recognized by most European countries
- 2001- Croatia signs Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU
- 2003- Croatia applies for EU membership
- 2004- Croatia receives official EU candidate status.
- 2005- Beginning of EU accession negotiations
- 10 June, 2011- Commission recommends closing of the negotiations and sets 1 July 2013 as target entry date
- 1 December, 2011- EU parliament approves Croatia’s entry to the EU
- 9 December, 2011- Croatia and the 27 member states of the EU sign the EU accession treaty
- 22 January, 2012- Results of EU accession referendum in Croatia: 66.25% voted in favour, 33.13% against. About 47% of eligible voters took part in the referendum.