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RIGA, June 5 (Itar-Tass) - The Latvian society “For lat, against Euro” on Wednesday started collecting notarised signatures in support of a referendum on the preservation of the Latvian national currency - the lat, the organisation said in a statement released here.
According to Latvian law, the society to initiate a referendum at the first stage has to collect 30 thousand signatures and submit them to the Central Election Commission (CEC). The CEC should then act as the organiser of official collection of signatures of one-tenth of the electorate (about 154 thousand people) in support of the plebiscite.
In March 2010, the Latvian government made a decision that the country will joins the euro area on 1 January 2014. To this end, the republic should meet the Maastricht criteria - ensure low inflation and the budget deficit lower than 3 percent of GDP and public debt should not exceed 60 percent of GDP. At the end of last year, the republic achieved these targets.
The country’s government, parliament and president have also approved the draft law on the procedure for the introduction of the euro.
In early March of this year, the Latvian authorities formally requested the European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB) to assess the republic’s compliance with the conditions for the introduction of the single European currency. When the EC and the ECB make their positive conclusion, the final political decision on Latvia’s accession to the euro area will be taken by the EU Council.
However, the majority of Latvian residents - 53 percent, oppose the introduction of the euro, and only 38 percent - support it, according to a survey conducted by the Factum public opinion research company.