Almost two decades after the former Yugoslav Republic's bloody independence war ended, Croatia has entered the European Union.
For Croatia that was facing a war only 15 years ago stable peace and sustainable peace, is [the] most important issue in a framework of the European Union. For Croatia [the] next process of enlargement of the European Union towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro Macedonia is the most important issue, because it makes us guarantee that there will be no further war or hostility in the Balkans region ...
It will be the 28th member state, the first since Bulgaria and Romania back in 2007, and will open the door for much-needed investment in a country facing its fifth year of recession, and 40 percent of youth unemployment.
The problem is that the EU is not a model of stability itself these days, leading us to a question, who exactly is getting the better deal here?
Croatia is located at the point where Central Europe turns into eastern Europe, just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.
It has plenty of neighbours too - Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia all share a border; the Croatian border will be the longest land border in the European Union, and opening up that border figuratively and literally, is what this EU membership is all about.
But how does it stack up for the country and the bloc?
So far Croatia is the obvious winner, it stands to get around $15bn of EU financing, albeit with conditions, it will also get access to larger EU markets, with the prospect of foreign direct investment.
The EU for its part gets more stability in the Balkans, a slightly larger market, and less hassle at the borders.
On the flipside, critics in Croatia argue they are joining a bloc whose own economy is pretty fragile, and some fear the EU's market will be too competitive.
Opponents in the EU say Croatia's corruption and its economic weakness pose the biggest threats, and any mistakes could jeopardise the EU ambitions of other Balkan states and places like Turkey.
But Croatia's president is convinced that joining the EU is the right thing to do:
"From an economic point of view, there is indeed a crisis, but I think we are stronger together, and that the crisis did not originate from the European Union itself, but rather from the economies of a few specific countries, that is why I think that to put an end to this crisis, we need more Europe and not less Europe," Ivo Josipovic declared.
But with its economy under pressure, and the EU financially fragile, is it the right time for Croatia and the bloc to be joining hands?
Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, is joined by guests Davor Gjenero, a political consultant and former adviser to Croatia's ministry of foreign affairs; and Petros Fassoulas, the chairman of the European Movement in the UK - a lobby group that campaigns for closer integration across Europe.
"I think … timing is perfect for this, it demonstrates the success of the European Union project; there are countries lining up eager to join, and I think including a new member in a family couldn't be a more optimistic signal to send to the whole world..."
- Petros Fassoulas, the chairman of the European Movement in the UK
Source: Al Jazeera