The arrival of 2009 has special significance in Slovakia, with the country becoming the 16th member of the eurozone.
Prime Minister Robert Fico was among the first to make a cash withdrawal. “We are very happy in Slovakia because we believe that Europe will be a big success for Slovakia. Of course we are also happy because we are going to introduce the euro at a time of deep economic crisis and Europe can be very helpful for us,” he said. Slovakia leaves behind other, bigger eastern EU nations – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – and will likely be the region’s last euro entrant for some time given the present financial turmoil. Slovaks will have to get used to the single currency quickly. The euro and the crown will be accepted in tandem for only two weeks. Slovakia has one of the best performing economies in the EU, with a 10 percent growth rate last year. But its people are among the bloc’s poorest and surveys show they fear the euro will bring higher prices.