Slovak PM says EU politics may decide euro entry

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BRATISLAVA, Sept 29 (Reuters) Slovakia's euro adoption in 2009 is not certain even if it meets all economic conditions because political criteria could block the euro zone entry, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today.

Fico plans to reduce the key public finance gap below the euro adoption threshold of three per cent of gross domestic product in 2007, and sees Slovakia meeting all euro zone criteria when its entry application is assessed next year.

The Leftist leader has already been forced to back down from some key welfare spending promises that helped him win a 2006 election because he must cut the fiscal deficit to enter the single currency area in 2009.

But, Fico said the EU may apply some other conditions and not just economic criteria when deciding on the Slovak bid.

''Some new political rules, which were not present before, are beginning to emerge,'' Fico said.

He said he had not received a clear answer when he asked the EU if the euro zone entry was guaranteed when Slovakia meets all economic criteria.

''No one wants to answer that question. That means, somebody wants to use double standards, some political criteria.'' Fico reiterated that the advantages of euro zone membership outweighed the disadvantages, but complained that budget limits were complicating his welfare agenda.

''I call it a devil's plan. On one hand, we are fulfilling the strict Maastricht criteria, and, on the other hand, we are striving for welfare politics.'' ''We have sacrificed a lot because of euro, and it would be bad to waste that (effort).'' Reuters MP VP0102

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