news 24 Jun 13

Croatia Gets Ready for EU Accession Party

More than 30 presidents and prime ministers will attend the celebrations in Zagreb for Croatia's accession to the European Union this weekend.

Boris Pavelic

The celebrations on June 30 and July 1 to mark Croatia joining the EU are set to be one of the biggest international events in the country’s history since independence.

In the evening of June 30, the Croatian government will hold a dinner party for its high-level international guests, after which the political leaders will join the public celebrations in Zagreb’s main square, which will start at 8pm.

Video links will connect the square with Croatia’s border with Slovenia, where the Customs sign will be taken down, symbolising the opening of the borders with other EU states.

Revellers in the square will also follow developments on Croatia’s border with Serbia, where a European Union sign will be symbolically erected.

At midnight, the moment when Croatia becomes the 28th EU member state, the EU anthem ‘Ode to Joy’ will be played, followed by speeches from Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.

There will also be celebrations in other cities across Croatia.

The president of European Council Herman van Rompuy, European parliament president Martin Schulz  and the president of European Commission Jose Manuel Barrosso are all expected to attend.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has also confirmed her presence, as well as the prime ministers of Poland, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia and Malta, and the presidents of Romania, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have yet to confirm which official they will send.

However Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Ivica Dacic have confirmed that they will come to Zagreb on June 30, as has Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga.

US deputy assistant secretary of state Philip Reeker will also attend, while Pope Francis will send his personal representative, cardinal Giovanni Lajolo.

Croatian newspapers have been counting down the days to EU accession on their front pages for some time now, although public discussion about whether membership will be good or bad for the country has continued.

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