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Most Latvians oppose joining eurozone: poll

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(RIGA) - A majority of Latvians oppose their government's drive to join the eurozone this coming January, an opinion poll in the EU Baltic state showed on Monday.

Sixty-two percent of respondents do not favour the currency switch, compared to 36 percent who said they do, a survey published by the TNS pollsters showed.

Unfazed by the eurozone's lumbering debt crisis, Latvia -- an ex-Soviet nation of two million people -- has requested EU approval for entry as the zone's 18th member on January 1.

Riga insists that it already meets eurozone criteria on inflation, public debt and deficits and an EU decision is expected in early July.

But opinion surveys have consistently shown very few Latvians are cheering.

Twenty-four percent surveyed by TSN said they were "very negative" about the switch, compared to just seven percent who were "very positive".

The survey of 1,016 Latvian residents aged 15-74 was conducted from April 2-23.

Riga has repeatedly rejected calls for a referendum on the eurozone entry, and the finance minister has warned such a vote could lead to "a lot of different types of provocations".

With the national currency, the lats, already pegged to the euro, the government argues that joining the troubled bloc will help the economy by easing trade and boosting investor confidence.

Latvia's northern Baltic neighbour Estonia adopted the single European currency in January 2011, and the third Baltic nation Lithuania is aiming to adopt the euro in 2015.


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