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Crowds queued at some banks in the snow blanketed capital,
Joining the euro caps a drive for integration with the West and away from the influence of
The government, battling its way out of a recession that knocked almost a fifth off GDP last year, hopes the move will shore up interest of Nordic banks in the economy, add to its appeal for other investors and make borrowing easier and more secure for ordinary citizens.
"Our Estonian kroons are really beautiful bank notes, but, unfortunately, investors cannot trust those beautiful bank notes as much as they can trust euros," Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told a news conference.
"It will be really beneficial to join as soon as possible and now it will happen," added Ansip, who will be one of the first to take euros out of a cash machine at midnight.
The country will become the 17th member of the euro zone in celebrations which will include EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Ollie Rehn and the prime ministers of
Elsewhere in the former Communist bloc, governments are far less keen.
They want to see how the debt problems of
The debt crisis has also undermined the idea that being a euro zone member guarantees lower borrowing costs and -- in contrast to the Poles and others --
"There are more risks to being in the euro zone than being outside," Polish central bank governor Marek Belka said earlier this month.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said adopting the euro would not be to the country's advantage for a long time and economists say the larger eastern Europeans may not join before 2019-2020.
A British think-tank on Friday said the euro has only a one-in-five chance of surviving in its current form over the next 10 years because of competitive imbalances between members.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, reiterated
"The euro is the foundation of our prosperity," she said. "
POOR, BUT IN GOOD SHAPE
Ansip's centre-right government also slashed spending and hiked some taxes to ensure the budget deficit stayed low.
"We know what is happening in some euro zone member states and of course we also worry about what is happening in
In economic terms, the single currency bloc will barely notice the addition --
The Balts also hope euro membership will in time confer greater political and economic stability after the crisis set back a previously successful transformation from Communism.
It could also help the Nordic banks, now the major players in the region, led by Swedbank and SEB.
All three Baltic nations went through Soviet, Nazi and then Soviet occupation again, so becoming part of western economic and security structures has been of prime importance. They joined NATO and a self-confident European Union in 2004.