(Central News Agency) Croatia was allowed to join Europe's free travel zone "Schengen Area" (Schengen Area) today, but Bulgaria and Romania remained excluded after Austria led the opposition due to concerns about undocumented migrants.

Croatia was allowed to join the Schengen area as the 27th member after the interior ministers concluded tense negotiations in Brussels, Reuters reported.

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From 2023, people traveling between Croatia and other countries in the Schengen area will no longer have to stop for border checks.

The Schengen area is the world's largest free travel zone and is seen as one of the major achievements of European integration.

A driver, Nenad Benic, queued at Bregana today to enter Slovenia from Croatia.

As a result, he said, journeys and waiting times would be shortened.

"To the citizens of Croatia, welcome and congratulations!" EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said.

"To the citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, you deserve full membership in the Schengen area and the right to freedom of movement... I share the disappointment of the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania."

Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca expressed disappointment and will apply again to join the Schengen area.

"We regret and, frankly, do not understand Austria's intransigence," he said.

Bulgaria's foreign minister also said it would try again.

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