PM says he threatened to resign unless Lithuania embraced euro

Algirdas Butkevičius
DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

“I think that the adoption of the euro will have a positive effect on businesses, households and public finances. It will ease the burden of interest, there will no longer be any costs of exchanging litas euros, which will stimulate faster growth of exports and, I believe, will be favourable for the growth of investment,” Butkevičius told the LRT Radio on Tuesday.

“The adoption of the euro will definitely help lure more investment from the US and, I think, from other countries, in particular due to lower costs of financial operations… lower currency risks and, I think, the interest on loans from commercial banks will decrease as well. As a result, the costs incurred by businesses will decrease,” Butkevičius added.

The country had duly prepared for the currency changeover at the turn of the year, he added.

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, some 63 percent of the Lithuanians were in favour of adopting the euro in November, up by 13 percentage points from June.

Lithuania will join the euro zone as its 19th member on 1 January.

Threats to resign over euro

As the moment of the euro introduction has come close, Prime Minister Butkevičius has acknowledged that the idea to join the single European currency did not enjoy universal support in the political circles at first.

On Tuesday’s interview to the national radio, Butkevičius recalled his first visit as prime minister to Estonia, where he expressed support for Latvia’s euro adoption aspirations and said that Lithuania would adopt the new currency in 2015.

The head of Government admitted that the economic and political goal to shift to the single currency received little support. In fact so little that Butkevičius even had to threaten to resign as prime minister to get others on board.

“The next day when I returned to Vilnius, I had a meeting with people responsible for the euro adoption. Today I can frankly tell you that there was no support or great optimism. However, I said at the meeting that it was my political decision which had to be followed through. Of course some politicians, coalition partners, objected that the issue had not been discussed at the political council. That is why I made a strict statement that I would resign if there was no support. We had no time while Lithuania could have adopted the euro back in 2007,” said Butkevičius.

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