DIPLOMATIC SHORT

No political criteria for euro adoption, insists PM

THERE will be no political criteria for Slovakia to fulfil prior to introduction of the euro from next January. We can start paying with euro once the Maastricht criteria have been met, said Prime Minister Robert Fico after hosting a lunch for EU ambassadors on March 12. "There is an understanding that there are no criteria other than the Maastricht [economic] criteria," Fico told journalists, referring to earlier speculation that Slovakia's entry might also be subject to additional, unspecified political criteria.

THERE will be no political criteria for Slovakia to fulfil prior to introduction of the euro from next January. We can start paying with euro once the Maastricht criteria have been met, said Prime Minister Robert Fico after hosting a lunch for EU ambassadors on March 12. "There is an understanding that there are no criteria other than the Maastricht [economic] criteria," Fico told journalists, referring to earlier speculation that Slovakia's entry might also be subject to additional, unspecified political criteria.

According to him, the European Union is positively inclined to Slovakia's euro-ambitions. "I think that the European Union is favourably inclined to the introduction of the euro in Slovakia," he added. Fico informed EU diplomats about cabinet measures designed to prevent a possible jump in inflation after Slovakia joins the European monetary union.

At the EU summit in Brussels starting on March 13, the prime minister said he hopes to lobby for the last time in favour of Slovakia's adoption of the euro. He intends to persuade EU leaders that Slovakia is ready for the euro before the European Commission makes its definitive decision at a summit in July.

Fico also spoke about ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which has been blocked by the opposition in parliament. The opposition has made its support for the treaty conditional on changes to the draft press law, which was the subject of sharp criticism from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. SITA

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