Croatia rings within the New 12 months as a completely built-in EU member: NPR



Croatia’s Inside Minister Davor Bozinovic, left, presses a button to carry the barrier on the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia, accompanied by Slovenian counterpart Sanja Ajanovic Hovnik, early Sunday.

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Croatia’s Inside Minister Davor Bozinovic, left, presses a button to carry the barrier on the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia, accompanied by Slovenian counterpart Sanja Ajanovic Hovnik, early Sunday.

Darko Bandic/AP

ZAGREB, Croatia — On the stroke of midnight Saturday, Croatia switched to the frequent European forex, the euro, and eradicated dozens of border crossings to affix the world’s largest passport-free journey zone.

It marked a brand new starting for the small Balkan nation of 4 million folks, which captured worldwide consideration three a long time in the past as the location of a brutal battle that left almost 1 / 4 of its economic system in ruins.

Becoming a member of Europe’s Schengen zone with out ID checks means Croatians will now be amongst almost 420 million people who find themselves allowed to roam freely throughout its 27 member states with out passports for work or leisure.

Adopting the euro can even provide Croatia the advantages of deeper monetary ties with the 19 different customers of the forex and with the European Central Financial institution. It would additionally make journey and enterprise simpler, eradicating the trouble of forex alternate for Croatians going overseas and for tens of 1000’s of vacationers who go to their nation yearly for work or to take pleasure in its beautiful Adriatic coast.

As revelers round Croatia took to the streets to ring within the New 12 months, the nation’s inside minister, Davor Bozinovic, was on the Brega border crossing with Slovenia to want the most effective of luck to the final vacationers who had their passports checked there.

Slovenia is a part of the Schengen zone and tasked with defending its exterior border since 2007.

Now, the duty can be taken over by Croatia, which is able to proceed to use strict border controls on its jap borders with non-EU neighbors Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.

“Now we have opened our doorways to a borderless Europe. This goes past eliminating border controls, it’s the remaining affirmation of our European identification,” Bozinovic mentioned after trying on the ramps on the Bregana border crossing for the final time within the firm of his Slovenian. counterpart Sanja Ajanovic-Hovnik.


A motorist drives uninterrupted on the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia, early Sunday.

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A motorist drives uninterrupted on the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia, early Sunday.

Darko Bandic/AP

Stipica Mandic, a 72-year-old skilled driver, shared the sentiment and mentioned that the liberty of motion with out lengthy waits at border crossings was his private dream and the explanation why he left a New 12 months’s social gathering at dwelling and drove 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) to Bregana. to see it come true.

“I spent years of my life ready at border crossings, so I got here right here tonight to witness this second, the second after which I can’t wait any longer,” he mentioned.

At about the identical time, shortly after midnight, Croatia’s finance minister and central financial institution governor marched to an ATM within the capital, Zagreb, to withdraw euro notes and symbolically banish Croatia’s outdated nationwide forex, the kuna, to historical past.

Croatia joined the EU in 2013, however to undertake the euro the nation needed to meet a set of strict financial situations, together with a steady alternate price, managed inflation and sound public spending.

The Croatian kuna and the euro can be dual-use for money funds for less than 14 days, however as folks store after the vacation in January they are going to solely obtain euros in change.

The New 12 months’s developments had been described by many Croatians as proof that their nation had accomplished a troublesome journey into the European mainstream 31 years after it fought a battle for independence from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia during which 20,000 folks had been killed and lots of of 1000’s displaced.

“We dreamed of this earlier than and I am glad we lived to see it occur,” mentioned Zlatko Leko, a resident of the port metropolis of Cut up within the south of the nation. “I hope this implies we’re lastly a part of Europe.”

Elenmari Pletikos-Solon in Zagreb agreed: “We had been already a part of Europe, however dismantling the borders and transferring to the euro is the ultimate affirmation that we’re totally built-in” with the European Union.

“I am actually pleased. It is going to make numerous issues in our life quite a bit simpler,” she added.



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