EU chief visits Croatia to mark entry into eurozone, Schengen

Zagreb, Jan. 2 (Representative) Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, visited Croatia on New Year’s day to mark the country’s entry into the eurozone and the border-free Schengen area.Various activities were held at border crossings with Slovenia and Hungary on early Sunday morning to celebrate the historic moment.”This is a day to celebrate. It is time for new beginnings. I believe that there is no other place in Europe where a new beginning and a new chapter can be better marked than the border of Slovenia and Croatia,” said von der Leyen, along with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Slovenian President Natasa Musar, at the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia.Plenkovic said that Croatia would help strengthen both the eurozone and the Schengen area.

In the early hours of Jan. 1, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and Slovenian Interior Minister Sanja Ajanovic Hovnik pressed a button to lift a barrier at the Bregana border crossing, while Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman and Hungarian parliamentarian Peter Cseresny, former mayor of the Hungarian border town of Nagykanizsa, lifted the barrier at the border crossing, signaling the free passage between Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary.This was the first time that a European country joined both the eurozone and Schengen area on the same day, an important milestone for Croatia, an EU member since 2013.