- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2013

It took 10 years, but the Balkan state of Croatia finally won membership with the European Union.

The state formally entered the EU on Monday. National celebrations marking the moment – including fireworks, and the popping of thousands of champagne bottles — kicked off as the clock struck midnight on Sunday.

“Welcome to your union, welcome to our union,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy told the crowds of partiers that assembled in the capital city, Zagreb, CNN reported.

Croatia is home to about 4.4 million. It’s now the second Balkan state, behind Slovenia – and the 28th country – to join the EU. The new membership doesn’t erase the country’s problems, rooted in a poor credit rating, flailing economy and corruption-laden government.