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August 5, 2021

Croatians cheer country’s historic EU entry

Tens of thousands of Croatians cheered the country’s entry into the European Union, almost two decades after the former Yugoslav republic’s bloody independence war ended, Al Jazeera reports. “Welcome to the European Union,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in Croatian on Sunday to 20,000 people gathered in the Zagreb square hosting the main celebration.
Euroenews reports that it was party time in Croatia as two men abseiled down a Zagreb building with the EU flag and the clocks struck midnight signifying the moment the Balkan country became the 28th member of the European Union. If the global economic crisis has strained EU solidarity recently Croatia’s prime minister was having none of it: “Whatever anyone is saying about us,” said Premier Zoran Milanovic, “you should know we are a country of rational people who are realistic about themselves and their country.” Croatia with its 4.4 million people becomes only the second of the seven states carved from federal Yugoslavia to enter the EU following Slovenia in 2004. Along with leading members of the EU’s commission, Lithuania’s premier gave her welcome in Croatian on behalf of the Lithuanian presidency which starts July 1.
Heads of state from all six ex-Yugoslav republics were among the guests, but the leaders of many EU member states including Britain, France and Germany were not be present. German Chancellor Angela Merkel cited a full workload to excuse herself from the event, but both Croatian media and the opposition labelled her decision a “diplomatic slap”. The Speaker of the Romanian Senate Crin Antonescu attended the festivities in Zagreb.

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