Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today for the opening of the Euro Exhibition. We are celebrating a historic moment for Estonia, which, on 1 January 2011, will become the 17th country to join the euro area.
In the 13th century Tallinn and Tartu became members of the Hanseatic League, a trading union of merchants along the coast of northern Europe that contributed to the prosperity of the Baltic region. 1 January 2011 will also become a landmark in the history of Estonia, reflecting the long and challenging process of economic and monetary integration that has enabled Estonia to join the euro area. Since regaining independence in 1991, Estonia has embarked on a rapid and far-reaching programme of social and economic reform. In addition to being one of the most determined reformers, it has become a model of stable multi-party democracy. Estonia has transformed itself into a dynamic economy and for many years has gained recognition for its sound fiscal record, economic freedom and capacity to develop and adapt new technologies.
Since the EU Council decision authorising Estonia to adopt the euro, great efforts have been made to communicate on the introduction of the new currency. For example, the Euro Exhibition will be hosted here until the end of October and an extensive advertising campaign aimed at familiarising the people of Estonia with the euro banknotes will be launched this autumn.
The euro banknotes and coins were first introduced on 1 January 2002 and are now being used by the 330 million citizens of the euro area. They have become an important and natural part of our daily lives and this will soon be the case for the people of Estonia as well. In fact, the euro banknotes and coins are now one of the most visible symbols of Europe and the euro is contributing to shape shaping the European identity today. Internationally, the euro is widely recognised as a currency of major significance. Eesti Pank will be acquiring 40 million euro banknotes to replace the Estonian kroon. Let me now turn to the Euro Exhibition itself, which we are inaugurating here today. The European Central Bank, the European Commission and the Estonian authorities have joined forces to display their exhibitions on the euro together here in Tallinn, highlighting the smooth cooperation and synergies at the European level. The main objective of the Euro Exhibition is to give citizens of all ages the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the euro.
The subject areas covered by the exhibition range from the history of money to the production of euro banknotes. There are also a number of interactive displays, including one on the security features of the euro banknotes, where you will have the chance to compare genuine banknotes with counterfeits. As you walk through the exhibition, you will recognise the bridges that feature on the back of our euro banknotes and link all the exhibition areas. As on the banknotes, the bridges symbolise the very close relationship and cooperation between the people of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world. These bridges are also a fundamental element of the information campaign that will be launched this autumn.
As the euro is used by all citizens of the euro area, the exhibition also takes the younger generations into consideration. For example, there is a kids’ corner where children can try their hand at the educational computer games and learn about the euro in an entertaining and enjoyable way!
Dear Commissioner Rehn, dear Governor Lipstok, dear Minister Ligi, let me thank you for the successful cooperation. Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, I sincerely hope that you will enjoy your visit to the Euro Exhibition.
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