July 1 - As Croatia becomes the 28th member of the European Union Hayley Platt looks at what lies in store for the country and how membership has gone down with Croatians and their neighbours.
There was much optimism as Croatia enjoyed its first days as a member of the European Union . (SOUNDBITE) (Croatian) PENSIONER FROM ZAGREB, MIRKO IVANCAN, SAYING: "Anything is possible, it is possible that we end up doing well, which is what I would like, for my people, and also for those who accepted us, with all the difficulties." And there are lots of difficulties The country has been stuck in recession for the last four years. Its national debt is officially classed as junk and one in every five people are unemployed. Peter Sanfrey from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says EU membership should help. SOUNDBITE: Peter Sanfey, EBRD, saying (English): "It's a country with a lot of potential, it's going through a difficult economic situation at the moment like its neighbours but I think with membership now this will give it a boost that over the medium to long term will bring benefits." Croatia has already implemented many unpopular reforms in order to qualify for membership It's sold off indebted ship yards, and tackled corruption - even jailing former prime minister Ivo Sanader. And the country won't be joining the euro just yet, says Croatia's bank governor. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CROATIAN CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR, BORIS VUJCIC, SAYING: "It's too early to talk about it. As I usually emphasise, for Croatia because it's already heavily 'euro-ised,' de facto it makes sense to think about introducing it as soon as possible. But when it will be possible, we'll discuss that later." Croatia is the second of the seven former Yugoslav states to enter the EU after Slovenia in 2004. Others including Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo are years away from joining. But it is hoped the move will bring unity to a region which just two decades ago saw 20,000 Croatians killed in war following a split from Yugoslavia.