Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union at midnight Sunday (1 July), a decade after it started the process and less than 20 years after the end of its war of independence from Yugoslavia.
Thousands lined the streets of the capital Zagreb to the sound of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and fireworks as the country’s leaders accompanied by EU officials celebrated the event.
“This will change the life of this nation for good. I welcome you wholeheartedly,” said EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
“Welcome to the European Union!” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Croatia is the first country to join the EU since 2007, when Bulgaria and Romania came on board, and only the second of the seven ex-Yugoslav states after Slovenia was part of the big bang eastward enlargement in 2004