The Slovak Republic entered the Eurozone on the New Year’s at midnight, accomplishing a process that started in 2005. Slovakia has become the 16th country to enter the zone, second only among former post-communist countries and the first country ever to change the parity between the domestic currency and the euro twice during the process. The original parity started at SKK 35.442 but closed at SKK 30.126, resulting in an appreciation of 17.64%.
Former Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš told Aktuálně.cz that the plan for euro adoption met with no opposition in the then right-wing government, except from the Christian Democrats (KDH) who rejected the euro for ideological reasons, and was also supported by the National Bank of Slovakia. Mikloš added that the process also helped promote the difficult reforms necessary for the country in order to meet the strict Maastricht criteria. He also said that without the reforms of the former cabinet, current cabinet would not have been able to introduce the euro. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said,”In the current world economic crisis, the euro represents a psychological tool that will strengthen our confidence.” Finance Minister Ján Počiatek said the euro will present a protective shield for the Slovak economy. Economists quoted by Mladá fronta Dnes generally agree that the euro will protect the Slovak economy better than crown during the crisis.
Due to the currency change, ATM machines and petrol stations were shut down for some hours on the New Year’s night, but the very first withdrawal took place only one minute and 40 seconds after midnight. E15 quotes Marcel Laznia from the Slovak bank association, who confirmed that the network of bank cards, ATM machines and payment terminals was fully functioning two hours after midnight on New Year’s Day.
The Slovak crown will be accepted in ordinary businesses until 16 January. Banks will exchange Slovak coins free of charge until 30 June and banknotes until the end of the year. The national bank will be exchanging Slovak crowns without limit, though coins only until 2013.
Despite the lack of any panic or excessive worry connected to the euro adoption, the majority of Slovaks (some 48%) say they think the euro will have a negative impact on them personally while only 41% expect the opposite, an MVK agency poll shows. Mladá fronta Dnes quotes a shop assistant from the village Demänovská Dolina saying that she is afraid of the euro since she thinks it will be difficult to learn to work with at her age.