RIGA, January 1 (RIA Novosti) – Despite little support from the population, Latvia officially became the 18th member of the euro zone at midnight on Wednesday.
A poll held by Latvia’s SKDS market research and polling company in December shows that 50 percent of respondents oppose the currency switch. Only eight percent of the country’s population fully support euro as the new currency while 16.5 percent “mostly support” it.
Financial Times quoted the country’s finance minister Andris Vilks as saying that the recent events in Ukraine showed why the country should join the euro zone.
“Russia isn’t going to change. We know our neighbor. There was before, and there will be, a lot of unpredictable conditions. It is very important for the countries to stick together, and with the EU,” he said.
The issue of Ukraine’s multi-billion-dollar national debt with no immediate financial gain was among the problems widely discussed as a reason for Kiev’s sudden abandonment of a long-expected trade and political deal with the EU in late November.
Kiev chose instead to strengthen ties with Russia, striking a $15 billion bailout package with Russian President Vladimir Putin to stabilize Ukraine’s finances.