Euro embraced as drachma fades

Despite their being about to lose what is, nominally, the oldest currency in the world, Greeks have thrown themselves with gay abandon behind the euro which they use for seven out of 10 transactions, according to government figures published yesterday. Speaking at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee for the euro, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the switchover had been a great success. «All statistics show that we have adopted the euro to a greater extent than many other European Union countries, that there were no problems and that fears regarding price increases were not borne out,» Simitis said. The drachma, first used in ancient Greece and reintroduced in 1832 following Greece’s independence from Turkey, will cease to be legal tender on March 1. The PM quoted National Statistics Service officials to note that adoption of the euro had not really affected inflation. «The rise in inflation is due to purely circumstantial causes and, obviously, if there is an increase in January it will be mainly due to the effects of the unusually bad weather Greece experienced lately,» he said. Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said that by January 30, 73 percent of drachma coins and notes had been withdrawn from circulation – as opposed to the EU average of 68 percent of outgoing currencies – while euros account for 76 percent of all money in circulation.

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