|Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis shows an euro banknote after withdrawing it from a local bank machine in Riga, Lativa, Jan. 1, 2014. Latvia adopted the euro Wednesday, making the Baltic country the 18th member of the eurozone, as New Year's Day fireworks erupted at midnight in Riga, the Latvian capital. (Xinhua/Guo Qun)
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RIGA, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Latvia joined the eurozone on Wednesday as its 18th member, when the New Year fireworks cracked in the sky at midnight in the Latvian capital of Riga.
As part of celebrations marking Latvia's entry into the single-currency bloc, Valdis Dombrovskis, Latvia's acting prime minister, withdrew a euro banknote from a bank machine.
Dombrovskis said that it was an opportunity for the country's economic development as a member of the world's second largest currency, though it should not relax its fiscal policy.
"We should know how to use this opportunity in the best possible way so as to facilitate the economic and social development of Latvia," he said.
The year of 2014 is a historic year for Latvia after it made the important step in becoming the eurozone's 18th member, he added.
Tens of thousands of Latvians gathered at a square in the capital to celebrate the New Year and the adoption of the euro.
The euro and Latvia's national currency lat were simultaneously put into circulation two weeks ago before the New Year and the lat will cease to be legal tender on Jan. 15.
After joining the European Union in 2004, Latvia took a long way to join the euro. In 2010, the Latvian government decided to enter the eurozone on Jan. 1, 2014.
It applied for the eurozone membership in March 2013 and the European Union supported Latvia's application on condition that it will curb its inflation and debt level.
Latvia is the second Baltic Sea country to adopt the euro after Estonia in 2011.