Croatia entered the Schengen area of free movement and the eurozone on Sunday, a decade after joining the European Union (EU).
At 0:00 today, controls were removed at 73 crossings of Croatia’s borders with Slovenia and Hungary, which have already become internal Schengen boundaries.
Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and his Slovenian counterpart welcomed the new year by jointly raising the barrier of the Bregana-Obrezje crossing, the border between the two countries, and toasted with a glass of champagne.
“We have opened the doors here to a Europe without borders. Tonight we celebrate a new day, a new year, a new Europe with Croatia in Schengen,” Bozinovic said in the brief televised ceremony.
“This act represents more than ending border controls, this is a definitive affirmation of our European identity for which generations of Croats fought and triumphed,” he added.
Simultaneously, a similar event took place at the Croato-Hungarian border crossing of Gorican-Letenye, with Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman and Hungarian MP Péter Cseresnyé.
In many other parts of the country, Croatians celebrated their integration into the Schengen area, which makes them the 27th member state of that area where they will be able to move freely.
At the same time they said goodbye to their national currency, the kuna, replaced by the euro.
The first banknotes of the European currency that have begun to circulate in the Balkan country were withdrawn from an ATM by Finance Minister Marko Primorac and the governor of the National Bank (BNC), Boris Vujcic, in a symbolic act in the center of Zagreb.