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Statement by Ivan Šramko, Governor of Národná banka Slovenska on the occasion of the entry of Slovakia into the euro area

Today, on 1 January 2009, except for the New Year, the citizens of Slovakia are celebrating also a historic event that will crown a series of integrating milestones the Slovak Republic went through the last two decades. Today, Slovakia joined the countries in which their inhabitants use the strong single currency, the euro.

The introduction of the single European currency in Slovakia on 1 January 2009 cannot be called other than a huge historic success of the whole country and its inhabitants. Our country has undergone a particularly complicated period of fulfilling the difficult criteria. This path was crowned with success. It is not only thanks to the Central Bank, Government and the European institutions. It is primarily the success and contribution of thousands of people who were performing their tasks related to the preparation of the euro adoption in tens of institutions, public and private ones.

The NBS views the adoption of the euro as a huge opportunity. The current financial crisis clearly shows the importance of a stable anchor for small and open economies which can be from time to time exposed to serious turbulences in financial markets. The euro can be a solid base on which we can build in future. We enter the society of selected countries with a stable economic environment and a strong single currency. It is, therefore, necessary not to view the euro as an end in itself, however, as a tool which can bring more investments and foster foreign trade and finally, increase the living standard more rapidly.

With the introduction of the euro the obligations of Slovakia within the European Union will be altered as of 1 January. The NBS will be co-responsible for single currency and monetary policy in the euro area. It will be no more possible to concentrate explicitly on the development in Slovakia, however, through the monetary policy instrument we will also be responsible for the events in other countries of the euro area.

On the other hand, the loss of independent monetary policy places higher demands on other areas of the economic policy. Responsible fiscal policy and structural policies ensuring the competitiveness of our economy and the flexibility of the labour market have to remain the most important priorities. It is crucial to understand that this is in our hands. If we are responsible, the euro will help us to get over the current period affected by financial crisis more easily. I am convinced that Slovakia will make use of this chance and the single currency will become the symbol of stability and prosperity.

I am sure that in a few weeks, or months, I will be able to say that the Slovaks adopted the euro as its own currency – similarly as it was done before by my 15 partners in the European Union which are already successfully using the single currency.

National Bank of Slovakia
Communications Section
Imricha Karvasa 1, 813 25 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Tel.: +421-2-5787 2161,+421-2-5865 2161, +421-2-5787 2166, 421-2-5865 2166

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