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Czech president wants opt-out from euro adoption: report

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(PRAGUE) - Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus wants the cabinet to negotiate a Czech opt-out from entry into the 16-nation eurozone, currently in the throes of a debt crisis, local media reported Thursday.

"On condition of anonymity, two cabinet members said President Klaus would like the cabinet to negotiate an opt-out from euro adoption," the iDNES.cz website for the broadsheet DNES daily said, quoting two ministers.

Klaus's spokesman Radim Ochvat refused to comment on the story on Thursday.

The opt-out would allow the country to keep its koruna currency even if it met all conditions for euro adoption and despite a pledge by Prague to join the eurozone when it entered the European Union in 2004.

No deadline was however set for the adoption of the common European currency now being battered by a debt crisis.

Klaus, a staunch eurosceptic and former economist, said on Monday the Czech Republic was in no rush to adopt the euro, considering the problems experienced by eurozone countries such as Greece and Ireland.

"After this year's euro crisis, there is no clearly defined group in the Czech Republic -- the government, the parliament, the central bank -- which would recommend accession to the eurozone in the foreseeable future," he said.

On Sunday, Ireland said it would receive a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that could reach up to 85 billion euros (113 billion dollars).

Greece, another eurozone struggler, received a 110-billion-euro cash injection from the EU-IMF earlier this year.

Several other eurozone members including Spain and Portugal are also a source of concern for the EU.

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told iDNES.cz that "if there's talk about negotiations on a euro opt-out, it's not the Czech government's position."

Klaus was the last EU leader to sign the 27-nation bloc's reforming Lisbon Treaty last year.

He did so only after securing an opt-out to ensure that the treaty would not allow ethnic Germans forced out of the former Czechoslovakia after World War II on charges of Nazi collaboration to reclaim their property.

The Czech Republic, a country of 10.5 million, has been putting off the euro entry date and its centre-right government has not fixed one since it took office in July.

But it has announced harsh austerity steps to slash the crisis-battered public deficit under the eurozone limit of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product by 2013.


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