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Majority of Latvians oppose joining eurozone: poll

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(RIGA) - A majority of Latvians oppose the country joining the troubled eurozone in January despite a massive pro-euro media blitz by the government, an opinion poll showed Thursday.

Unfazed by the eurozone's lumbering debt crisis, Latvia -- a post-Soviet nation of two million people -- will become its 18th member on January 1 after receiving an EU green light in July.

But opinion surveys consistently show few Latvians are cheering.

Fifty-three percent of respondents oppose the switch, compared with just 22 percent in favour, according to the Thursday survey, which was carried out in mid-August by Latvia's leading SKDS pollsters.

The remaining 25 percent were either neutral or had no opinion in the survey of 1,000 respondents aged 18-74.

The figures are similar to SKDS polls from June and February, but centre-right Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis remains confident support will pick up in coming months.

"We're working to let people know what will happen when the changeover occurs and we will see support gradually improve," he told AFP at the opening of an interactive exhibition on the euro in Riga this month.

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

Shops are already using dual-currency price tags and euro coins are on display at shopping centres, while TV and billboard ads bombard Latvians with information about the new currency.

Latvia's northern neighbour Estonia adopted the single European currency in January 2011 and fellow Baltic state Lithuania is aiming to make the switch in 2015.

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