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Lithuania's anti-euro camp outstrips supporters: poll

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(VILNIUS) - Opposition to Lithuania's planned adoption of the euro has grown in the shadow of Europe's debt crisis, with a poll released on Monday showing 49 percent in the Baltic state are against joining the currency bloc.

The survey by the RAIT public opinion institute for the Baltic News Service showed that the size the anti-euro camp had risen from 43 percent a year ago.

A total of 43 percent in the latest survey were in favour of ditching the Lithuanian litas for the euro.

BNS noted that it marked the first time for six years that the number opposed to adopting euro had outstripped supporters.

Within the pro-euro camp, 14 percent were in favour of adoptiion as soon as possible, while 15 percent said they would like to wait for five years and 14 percent for 10 years.

The litas has been pegged to euro since 2002.

Lithuania, a former Soviet-ruled nation of three million which joined the European Union in 2004, had hoped to adopt the euro in 2007.

It was denied entry as its inflation rate -- one of the eurozone entry tests -- was a hair's breadth over the limit.

Lithuanians note bitterly that few eurozone members obeyed their own rules, and that Greece was found to have provided flawed data to gain entry in 2001.

After its booming economy went off the rails in 2008, Lithuania introduced biting austerity measures to tackle the impact on state finances and slash its public deficit -- another eurozone entry measure.

Amid an economic recovery, Lithuania's centre-right government has identified 2014 as a potential date for eurozone entry.

Some analysts, however, warn it may not be able to switch until 2016 or 2017 because of problems meeting inflation or deficit criteria.

RAIT polled a representative sample of 1,023 people from October 2-18.

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