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Poland keeps fingers crossed for Latvia to join eurozone
|Radoslaw Sikorski and Edgars Rinkevics. Riga, 13.02.2013.|
''Seeing that you will join the euro-zone will become an important indicator and argument in our public debates. We are keeping our fingers crossed for you and we support you. I hope that you will be successful, because this would mean hope for our success would also increase,'' the Polish foreign minister said.
He said that Poland is committed to joining the euro-zone in the future, but that his country is not ready yet, as it still must meet the Maastricht criteria and implement the necessary changes to law and regulations. At the same time, Sikorski also pointed out to Poland's already close ties to the euro. ''In fact, we just not have yet physically begun to print the euro currency.''
''I look upon Latvia with some jealousy, as it has already met the economic criteria to join the euro-zone,'' the Polish foreign minister said.
Sikorski said that even though euro-zone membership is an economic challenge for countries wishing to join the European single currency, Slovakia, for example, which joined the euro-zone during the crisis, has witnessed economic growth.
The Polish foreign minister also praised Latvia's ability to overcome the economic crisis. ''We have closely followed along how Latvia has been capable of overcoming such a crisis. We respect what Latvia has accomplished, and I always mention Latvia as a positive example in my conversations.''
Rinkevics confirmed that Latvia has already met the Maastricht criteria to join the euro-zone, and will in the near future request a convergence report from the European Commission and the European Central Bank on Latvia's readiness to join. ''From an economic and financial point of view, we do not see anymore hurdles in joining the euro-zone.''
The Latvian foreign minister also expressed hope that all 27 European Union members will support Latvia's desire to join the European single currency. ''I truly hope January 1, 2014 will become the day Latvia joins the euro-zone,'' Rinkevics said.
Radoslaw Sikorski said that the European Union's next multi-annual budget, which was accepted by EU leaders last week, is an anchor of stability in a time of crisis.
''Not everyone is completely satisfied with the budget. It is a compromise. But we believe that this budget is an anchor of stability in a time of crisis,'' Sikorski said.
He admitted that he has not yet met any farmer in Poland who is satisfied with the new budget, because ''we have achieved a lot, but not as much as we wished''. At the same time, Sikorski explained that the amount of EU agricultural financing has reduced, and that subsidies for German farmers, according to the new budget, will reduce by 20 percent. ''Seeing that subsidies for our farmers have increased, we are finally seeing an evening out of subsidies,'' the Polish foreign minister emphasized, adding that now the main issue is how fast farmers will reach the EU's average direct payment level.
During the meeting, Rinkevics and Sikorski also discussed the planned gas pipeline project which will connect Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The Polish foreign minister said that he sees energy as an area of expanded cooperation with Latvia. ''Latvia has huge gas storage facilities, which could be very useful,'' the Polish foreign minister said.
In regard to security matters, the two sides discussed defense purchases and NATO projects. The Latvian foreign minister emphasized that he highly values Poland's role in the NATO patrol missions over Baltic skies.
Rinkevics pointed out that the two sides also discussed regional cooperation, as well as the role of the Polish community in Latvia. ''I would also like to give a big thanks to Latvia's Polish community and the active role they play in the public life in Latvia,'' Rinkevics said.
The two foreign ministers also discussed the Eastern Partnership initiative and cooperation with Central Asia, Ukraine and Russia. Next week, Rinkevics will visit the Polish city of Gdansk to attend a regional forum where these matters will be discussed in more detail. ''This is a very important initiative, which certainly has a future,'' Rinkevics said. Sikorski also agreed with this.
As reported, Sikorski has arrived on an official visit to Latvia yesterday.
During his visit to Latvia, Sikorski will meet with Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina (Unity), Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Reform Party).