On January 1 Lithuania will become the 19th member of the eurozone. The decision to join the single currency sparked fierce debate in the Baltic nation and the controversy remains undiminished, even as the new euro coins are being minted in Vilnius.
Lithuanians are evenly divided on the issue. Those in favour believe the euro will bring stability, open up new business opportunities and boost tourism. The single currency’s opponents fear rising prices and a diminishing of the country’s hard-won independence. But with Brussels and the national parliament having just recently given their final approvals Lithuania’s membership of the euro is now inevitable.
As the country gears up for the changes the new currency will bring Hans Von der Brelie travelled through towns and villages, gauging the opinion of bankers, business leaders, low and middle earners and the young and old. What he found was a nation accustomed to sweeping historical change bracing stoically for another seismic transition. Watch his report.
WEB-BONUS: Vitas Vasiliauskas (English language)
Why join the euro? The Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, Vitas Vasiliauskas, explains why Lithuania will introduce the European single currency on January 1 2015. Lithuania will become the 19th member of the eurozone. To listen to the full interview with the Lithuanian Central Bank governor please use this link (English language).