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Slovakia enters Schengen zone

At exactly midnight on December 21, Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák and Roger Weber, the mayor of the Luxembourg town of Schengen, cut away the barrier at the Slovak-Austrian border crossing Bratislava-Berg, the SITA newswire reported. It was a ceremonial celebration of Slovakia’s joining the Schengen zone.

At exactly midnight on December 21, Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák and Roger Weber, the mayor of the Luxembourg town of Schengen, cut away the barrier at the Slovak-Austrian border crossing Bratislava-Berg, the SITA newswire reported. It was a ceremonial celebration of Slovakia’s joining the Schengen zone.

Several thousand people came to celebrate this event, which means free movement for Slovaks across the borders of Schengen member countries.

"Many of us remember that before 1989 we had no chance to get across this border. I’m very glad that the last brick of the Iron Curtain fell today," Kaliňák said.

In the final minutes of the border’s existence, people could receive one of the last stamps into their passports. Kaliňák himself stamped some of them.

Celebrations for Slovakia's entry to the Schengen zone started in the afternoon on December 21, when Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer ceremoniously sawed through the Bratislava-Berg border, accompanied by the sounds of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Festivities also took place at the borders with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Austria.

Compiled by Jana Liptaková from press reports

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