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Greece Wants In on Euro Currency

March 9, 2000

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Greece on Thursday formally applied to adopt the European Union’s single currency, the euro, capping what Premier Costas Simitis described as years of hard work to meet the requirements.

The EU heads of state are expected to approve Greece’s application at their meeting in Portugal in July. The admittance will take effect Jan. 1, 2001.

In a statement issued in Brussels, EU Commission President Romano Prodi and Economic Commissioner Pedro Solbes said Greece’s admittance to the Euro zone would be a positive step for the 11-member economic bloc.

``Today is an historic moment for the country. Our application for entry into European Monetary Union marks a new historic cycle for our country. It opens a new era of security, stability and development,″ Simitis said at a special ceremony to mark the event.

Simitis hopes to use Greece’s application to bolster his governing Socialist party’s efforts to win a new four-year term in the April 9 elections. He called the early elections claiming his government needed a new mandate to negotiate Greece’s application.

Simitis has made EMU entry a keystone of his government’s pre-election campaign, along with cutting inflation to one of its lowest points in more than a quarter-century.

He said that from 1993, Greece had managed to lower inflation from 14.2 percent to 2.5 percent in 1999, and lowered the public deficit from 16.1 percent of gross domestic product to 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile, news reports said the Danish government is speeding up its timetable for holding a referendum on adopting the common currency, with some predicting a vote as early as September.

Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen called an extraordinary meeting of the ruling Social Democratic party for later Thursday, and a party spokesman indicated Nyrup Rasmussen would announce a date for holding a plebiscite on joining the European Monetary Union.

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