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Latvia Gets Formal Go-ahead To Use Euro

But not many Latvians see it that way; polls suggest that less than half the population supports the move â¿¿ not unsurprising after several years of crisis that has seen Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus all receive bailouts and raised questions about the very survival of the currency.

Dombrovskis said he was confident that a majority of Latvians would be behind the euro by the time it enters into circulation, saying that the government was currently conducting a massive information campaign to explain both the reasons behind the move and the practicalities of it.

Each eurozone country gets to design its own coins, and Latvia's will carry the profile of Milda, who represents Latvian nationhood, Dombrovskis said. The country's coins from the 1920s and 1930s carried her image, he added, and many Latvians held onto them during Soviet rule as a quiet reminder of their independence.

Dombrovskis also addressed concerns that Latvians will see prices rise when the euro enters into force. The national currency, the lat, is already pegged to the euro, and will be converted over at that exchange rate, so prices, in theory, should not change. But many eurozone consumers found that merchants took the opportunity of the changeover to hike prices, as they rounded them off.

The prime minister noted that one lat is worth more than one euro, so prices converted into euros will seem higher than they did in lats â¿¿ which was not the case for most other countries. He said this would create an added check on merchants.

"What people will see on prices tags, they will see bigger figures, and certainly people psychologically will not like those bigger figures, and they (will) double-check that it is the correct price," he said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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