Croatia membership a win-win for Croatia, EU; but challenges ahead
The 28th member state of the European Union is only the second member of the former Yugoslavia to join the EU. Croatia joins the EU on the first of July after a long and arduous road to membership, turning the page on its postwar years to look ahead to the future.
Chris standup in Zagreb
By taking in Croatia, the EU is reaching deep into the Balkans, where just 20 years ago a war was raging. With a combination of hard and soft power, the EU has maintained the peace in the last volatile region in Europe.
A nation of 4 and a half million, Croatia is one of the wealthiest former Yugoslav republics and its largest trading partner is the EU. Membership is likely to further boost Croatia's economy.
Vesna Pusic, Croatian Foreign Minister
One of the objectives and underlying motive for Croatia's eagerness to join, and to go through the lengthy process that we've been through in the accession period is achieving political stability. And in many ways this also has a lot to do with economic success.
Croatian opposition leader Tomislav Karamarko, a member of the EPP Group, says the EPP's support was crucial during the years of accession talks.
President, Crostian Democratic Union
The EPP is and always has been very significant for Croatia and very significant for the Croatian Democratic Union. We had very strong support during the entire duration of the accession negotiations with the European Union.
(Original in Croatian)
Accession talks, Croatia govt,
Accession was highly complicated, thousands of pages of rules and regulations to conform to, requiring reform of the economy and the government. There were crackdowns on crime and corruption, and prosecution of suspected war criminals.
A key player in the negotiations was the EPP Group's Davor Stier, former special representative for European and transatlantic relations. He remembers a critical moment in the talks.
Davor Stier, EPP Group
There was in particular one or two countries that were still reluctant to accept that and to conclude negotiations with Croatia. And here friends from the EPP told us how to approach these countries and also in some meetings they had a crucial role in getting the necessary consensus for that.
Croatia at war
Hard to believe that 20 years ago Croatia was in the middle of Europe's worst conflict since World War II – the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.
Adriana Kremenas-Danicic, now head of Europe Home Dubrovnik, remembers…
Europski Dom Dubrovnik
There where we are, and that's the main street of Dubrovnik, is where the grenades always fell. And at that time we believed that the European integration process is the only solution for this part of Europe. Not only for Croatia, but for all neighbouring countries.
Dort wo wir jetzt sind, und das ist die Hauptstrasse von Dubrovnik, fielen immer noch die Granaten. Und damals haben wir geglaubt, das der europaeische Integrationsprozess ist die einzige Loesung fuer diesen Teil Europas darrstellt. Also nicht nur fuer Kroazien, sondern auch fuer alle anderen benachbarten Laender.
That time seems so far away, with Dubrovnik painstakingly restored with the help of EU funding.
Chris standup in Dubrovnik
Croatia is also among the world's top tourist destinations. And no wonder: it has 5,800 km of coastline, most of it composed by islands.
Niko Bulic was tourism minister who helped change the postwar image of Croatia as an independent country.
Croatian National Tourism Board
Croatia as a name didn't exist. So the important thing was to brand old favourite destinations with new names that people in the world understand. When you say Dubrovnik, it
Ioannis ZografosEPP TV Managing ProducerBelgiumIoannis.firstname.lastname@example.org+32(0) 2 284 18 45