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Greece To Apply for Euro Currency

February 24, 2000

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Greece will submit its official application to join European economic and monetary union on March 9, Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou said Thursday.

The application will come one month before early elections, set for April 9. Greece was the only nation that wanted to enter the single currency bloc but failed to meet the fiscal standards.

Entry into the euro, EU’s single currency group, has been the cornerstone of Socialist Premier Costas Simitis’ policies for the past several years. Tight fiscal policies have brought inflation below 3 percent and tackled the debt that once crippled the EU’s poorest nation. Now, EU leaders have signaled that Greece will likely be accepted into the euro zone, or EMU.

The final decision for Greece’s entry will be taken at the June 19-20 European Union summit.

Papantoniou said Greece will meet all EMU requirements by March 9, seeing no threat from rising oil prices, which he predicted will start falling soon, allowing the central bank to proceed with planned rate cuts.

``The recent rise of oil prices was temporary and the prospect is that, as of March 1, oil prices will start falling,″ he said.

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