Croatia has adopted the euro as its currency as well as becoming part of Europe’s borderless Schengen zone, two momentous developments according to its prime minister.
“Nothing is the same after this,” declared Andrej Plenkovi, saying that embracing the euro would better protect Croats from financial crises and joining the Schengen zone would facilitate travel and enhance tourism.
On Sunday, Croatia joined the eurozone, at a time when inflation is high throughout Europe due to rising food and fuel prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It is the season of new beginnings. And there is no place in Europe where this is more true than here in Croatia,” tweeted the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as she landed in Croatia on Sunday to honor the occasion.
The introduction of the currency and the elimination of borders with Slovenia and Hungary, according to Croatian lawmakers, were symbolic steps that signified the conclusion of the country’s post-independence journey.
“We opened our doors to borderless Europe. This goes beyond eliminating border controls, it is the final affirmation of our European identity,” said interior minister Davor Bozinović.
In 1991, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia and waged a war to solidify its existence as an independent state. Twenty thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced during this conflict. The country became the most recent member of the EU when it joined in 2013.