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Europe

Former German Leader Says Non-EU countries Could Join Euro

In a rare interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said that countries not in the EU could join the euro zone.

Kohl, who was leader of Germany from 1982 to 1998, told the paper, "I can imagine that one or the other country will adopt the euro without becoming an EU member." Mentioning Switzerland, he said, "I think that in the not too distant future people will pay with the euro in Switzerland. Because there, after several referendums, it will be recognized that the euro is good for Switzerland." He also cited the Ukraine as a possible euro member outside the EU. The former leader believes that this would be a good way to bring countries that do not have the possibility of joining the EU closer to Brussels. Kohl, who is considered one of the architects of the euro, criticized present EU countries who have decided to retain their own currencies -- the UK, Sweden and Denmark. "Some European Union countries have not adopted the euro. One could say they have stepped on the brakes. But time is against the laggards," Kohl said. He also criticized the idea of a two-speed Europe. "It would be damaging to allow a two-speed Europe," he said adding that none of the new member states are in favor of such an idea. Kohl also rejected the German strategy of linking future funding to the question of the Constitution. He said it is "bad style to threaten that this country or that country will get no more money after a failure [of the talks]." (EUobserver.com)

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