Transition to euro ‘remarkably fast’

NICOSIA (AP) – Four weeks after Cyprus adopted the euro, the new currency has almost completely ousted the Cypriot pound in everyday transactions, officials said yesterday. Cyprus adopted the euro January 1 together with Malta, bringing to 15 the number of countries using the currency. «It was remarkable how fast we made the changeover and how fast Cypriots got used to the currency,» central bank Governor Athanasios Orphanides said. Finance Ministry officials estimate the euro is now being used in 90-95 percent of everyday commercial transactions. The pound will remain legal tender until tomorrow. «We had a load of plans to counter problems and I can tell you with a great deal of pleasure that there was no need to implement them (or) pull them out of our office drawers,» Orphanides said. The central bank governor also said a global economic slowdown spurred by concerns of a recession in the United States may result in slightly slower growth among eurozone countries that should not rattle nerves. «We await a slowdown within the eurozone relative to what we expected before, but I would like to point out that projections for the eurozone have been very good and this slowdown shouldn’t really worry us,» Orphanides said. Only the southern, Greek-speaking part of ethnically divided Cyprus is formally using the euro. The government in the north is recognized only by Turkey, but many Turkish-Cypriot merchants have also been accepting euros along with Turkish lira.