RIGA - The euro is a strategic goal of Latvia and a symbol of security; Latvia’s membership in the eurozone will have a geopolitical meaning, acknowledging once again that Latvia is part of the West and of the Western values, Unity party chairwoman and Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina said on Jan. 18 at the opening of a conference on Latvia’s accession to the euro in 2014, reports LETA.
Aboltina believes that the euro is a means of increasing stability, investments and prosperity, said her press secretary Laila Timrota.
After the restoration of independence, the lats became a symbol of the statehood of Latvia and is now considered part of the Latvian identity, and several groups in Latvia, political and non-political, are using this to generate populism and swiftly gain popularity with the general public, says Aboltina.
“That is where I have to say that the Latvian lat is already pegged to the euro, and that Latvia has been part of the European Union for eight years now,” stressed Aboltina.
It is time to dispel the myths and to explain, without emotion, the effect that the euro will have on each and every resident in Latvia, noted Aboltina.
Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis explained that the main advantages offered by the euro include faster economic development, residents’ confidence in the safety of their savings, and smaller, or no, spending on currency exchange and interest rates. Households and business alike will feel these changes, emphasized the prime minister.
Contrary to popular belief that prices will increase steeply in Latvia after the introduction of the euro, none of the five EU member states that last switched to the euro saw prices increase by more than 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points, and the switch to the euro has had a favorable effect on both households and business in these countries, said Dombrovskis.
Also, thanks to the improving credit ratings of Latvia and the country’s attractiveness to investors, the amount of direct foreign investment will increase, and so will the number of new jobs, said Dombrovskis. In Estonia, the amount of foreign investment doubled in a year after the country’s accession to the euro area, creating thousands of new jobs, consolidating production and exports.
The accession to the eurozone will also mean further integration in the EU, increasing Latvia’s role in both the EU and the world and offering Latvia new opportunities to pursue its interests, stressed Dombrovskis.
It is untrue that the other new EU member states do not want to join the eurozone, added Dombrovskis. At the moment, Latvia and Lithuania are the only EU member states that, if they meet the Maastricht criteria, can apply for eurozone membership. The other countries must peg their currencies to the euro at least two years before they can seek eurozone membership. Latvia is currently the only member state that meets all Maastricht criteria, whereas Lithuania and Poland have recently said that they want to adopt the euro in 2015 and 2016 respectively, said Dombrovskis.
In an interview on Latvian Radio on Jan. 18, Elita Krumina, who was voted in by Saeima as the country’s next auditor general, said that she supports the introduction of the euro. Krumina pointed out that there are various points of view from various experts in regard to the implementation of the European single currency in Latvia, and that many of these experts base their point of views on assumptions.
However, she said that she supports the implementation of the euro, as she has acquainted herself with Bank of Latvia calculations. “I trust the point of view of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance Ministry. I see no reason to doubt this point of view,” Krumina said.