Lithuania’s banking and monetary systems are a bit of a mess, making this a reachable goal but a difficult one.
Beneath the success of these individual stories is a somewhat odder truth: the Baltics only fit the European Union slightly better than they did the Soviet one.
Although its membership in the European Union remains a cherished fact for most Poles, the euro’s appeal to the Poles has decreased dramatically.
Lithuania has come far since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite Moscow’s best efforts to preserve old ties, holding the EU presidency will firmly weld Vilnius to the West.
Riga demonstrated that it was a credible and trustworthy economic partner with its tough austerity program in 2008 and 2009, which brought the country out of a serious economic crash.
We have recently covered Latvia’s determination to advance into the eurozone despite popular opposition to the idea. In Poland, the popular discontent is there, but as a result, euro accession there may be a decade or more away.
It is ironic that another achievement in democracy for Latvia will be accomplished in the manner of European democracy — by the people’s elected representatives, and despite the people’s will.
The EU is not the Soviet Union; these fears are overblown. Latvia is nevertheless an example of how a state can democratically bind itself to an undemocratic result, and democratically place itself beyond any chance of escape.
Latvia’s likely success in joining the eurozone flies in the face of almost every possible indicator — and it again comes back to Berlin, who wants a symbol of austerity’s success to use against Southern Europe.
Not everyone is certain that this is a wise decision. Nevertheless, Latvia has followed policies which make its economic success likely irrespective of the fate of the Euro.