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RIGA, September 9 (Itar-Tass) —— Fifty-one percent of Latvian residents oppose the planned switch to the euro due on January 1, 2014, TNS Latvia and LNT channel said.
Twenty percent of them strongly reject the option, and 31 percent are inclined to reject it. Only 36% of the Latvians say they will welcome the euro, and 13% are unable to answer the question.
The Latvian government decided in the middle of March 2010 that the country would switch to the euro on January 1, 2014. In order to do that, the republic must meet the Maastrich criteria of low inflation, a budget deficit no larger than 3% of GDP, and a state debt no larger than 60% of GDP.
The Latvian Finance Ministry said that Riga was already preparing for the accession to the euro zone. The accession will be done in three steps. The first stage will last from January 1, 2012, through July 2013, in which the Latvians will be informed about advantages of the common European currency and experience of other EU countries.
The second stage will begin six months before the introduction of the euro, and the Latvians will be informed how the euro looks, what the prospective exchange rate will be and how long the national currency and the euro will be used simultaneously.
The third stage will start with the introduction of the euro in Latvia and last for one year, in which governmental agencies will sum up results of their work and continue to provide information to the Latvian public.