Croatia held a midnight celebration as it officially joined the European Union this morning, 10 years after the country applied. It's "a great and joyful day for our homeland," said President Ivo Josipovic. The first deputy prime minister offered a bit more detail: "It's important for us primarily for the long term guarantees of political stability and then everything else—the single market, too," said Vesna Pusic. Last year, two-thirds of the country voted to join.
But not everyone was thrilled with the change. "Just look what's happening in Greece and Spain! Is this where we're headed?" one pensioner asked Reuters. "You need illusions to be joyful, but the illusions have long gone." Indeed, Croatia is already facing economic woes: one in five are unemployed and the national debt has been rated junk, the BBC notes; the country is facing its fifth year of recession, Reuters adds. Still, there was plenty of optimism on show as thousands of revelers gathered in Zagreb. "This will change the life of this nation for good. I welcome you wholeheartedly," said European Council president Herman Van Rompuy.