1 July 2013
The European Union now has 28 member states. Croatia officially joined on Monday after a process that lasted almost a decade. Thousands of people attended a special event in the capital Zagreb to mark the occasion. But the new era has been greeted cautiously by both locals and foreign officials.
Guy De Launey
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As the clock struck midnight, the anthem of the European Union rang out across Zagreb's main square and at last Croatia completed its journey from combat zone of the former Yugoslavia to member of Europe's biggest club.
But this was not entirely an ode to joy. Zagreb's main square was hardly packed for most of the coming-out party. And that reflects the ambivalence many people here now feel about membership. After the prolonged economic crisis, the EU no longer looks like the promised land Croatia applied to join a decade ago.
Likewise, the new member's own economic troubles have caused concern among the other 27 states. Visiting foreign ministers stressed the EU's role as a builder of peace rather than prosperity. A good point, bearing in mind Croatia's recent past. But also, perhaps, a diplomatic fig-leaf.
Click here to hear the vocabulary
official song of a particular country or organisation
- combat zone
battleground during war
- an ode to joy
a song about happiness (also, the title of the European Union anthem)
having positive and negative feelings at the same time
continuing for a long time
- the promised land
a place where people expect to find complete happiness
financial success / having lots of money
- a diplomatic fig-leaf
a political idea or action that covers up an embarrassing issue