Slovenia has become the first former communist country to enter the Euro zone. Both the national tolar and the euro will be in use until January 15, when the single European currency will take over. For many Slovenians it is a dream come true: “The euro is definitely cool,” said a young man in a Ljubljana cafe. “It’s nice to have a common currency, strong currency. I just paid for my first coffee with tolars but I got euros back, so I like it.”
More than two thirds of Slovenians are happy to embrace the single currency, according to polls. Many see it as the outcome of a successful transition from a former Yugoslav republic to Europe’s most advanced post-communist economy. Banks started changing tolars into euros shortly after midnight and cash machines were back in business within hours. “This is my New Year’s pension,” said one elderly lady, “and from now on, I will have more and more euros.”
The switch-over went even better than planned, according to bank officials. While finance minister Andrej Bajuk warned there would be some nostalgia for the tolar, he said it was a great opportunity for his country which could be proud of belonging to such an exclusive club. He added, however, that his greatest concern was a rise in prices – a fear shared by some 40 percent of Slovenians, despite government efforts to prevent this by introducing double pricing.