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Croatia joins EU

Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union at midnight on Sunday (June 30), two decades since fighting itself free of Yugoslavia. Fireworks lit the sky, Zagreb's mediaeval cannon fired and a choir sang Beethoven's Ode to Joy as two men clad in white abseiled from a nearby building to bring the EU's yellow-starred blue flag to the central Ban Jelacic square, packed with around 20,000 cheering Croatians. The ceremony represents a milestone in Croatia's recovery from a 1991-95 war to secure independence in which some 20,000 people died, but was held against a backdrop of economic woes in the Adriatic republic and the bloc it is joining. Irish deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore welcomed Croatians into the EU on behalf on the ending Irish EU presidency, while Lithuanian Prime Minister Dalia Grybauskaite said her welcome in Croatian on behalf of the Lithuanian presidency which starts on July 1. The country of 4.4 million people becomes only the second of th

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