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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 12:06 GMT
Denmark cagey on early euro referendum
Per Stig Moeller meets the BBC's Tim Sebastian
Per Stig Moeller meets the BBC's Tim Sebastian
The Danish Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moeller, has rejected claims that Denmark could hold a second referendum on the euro in 2003, despite his recent comments in a newspaper article.

Mr Moeller, speaking in an interview with Tim Sebastian for the BBC's HARDtalk programme, said he could not pinpoint a specific date on which the Danish people would be asked to vote again on whether to reject their currency - the kroner - in favour of the euro.

Mr Moeller appeared cautious in the interview over the question of a referendum:

"We want to join the euro someday when it's too impractical to stay outside. When we can see that we have got the experiences that the euro is working."

Change of heart

Mr Moeller's comments come at time when Denmark appears to be having a change of heart about joining the euro.


Let us now see how the euro works.

Per Stig Moeller

In a referendum in September 2000, 53% of Danish voters opposed it.

However a new poll commissioned by the financial paper Boersen and released a week ago shows that opinion is turning, with 57% of Danes saying they would now favour adopting the euro.

Despite the opinion polls, Mr Moeller would not be rushed into a decision about the euro:

"Let us now see how the euro works. It's only a fortnight since it started, so let us see how it works. Let us get some experiences, see and learn, and then we can discuss it again."

Support

Mr Moeller was also questioned about the Danish Government's parliamentary alliance with the extreme right wing Danish People's Party (DDP). The government has to rely on support from the party to get a majority in parliament.

The DDP has strong views on immigration and has said it will not support the Danish government unless it tightens its policies on immigration.

Illegal immigrants
The DDP has expressed strong views on illegal immigrants
Mr Moeller denied claims that the government had to pay a price for the support of the DPP, but did disclose that the government would be releasing new reform bills on immigration later this week.

Speaking about the reforms, Mr Moeller commented: "We propose some bills ... about the immigration policy and our idea is that we have to stop the influx of immigrants for economic reasons, but we are going to respect all the conventions on asylum seekers."

Integration

Mr Moeller stressed that the immigration bills would not prevent asylum seekers who are in danger of their lives from seeking sanctuary in Denmark:

"Asylum seekers who are afraid of their lives, who might risk their lives because of their meanings, their beliefs and so forth can still come to Denmark and we want to integrate much better the people who have been let into Denmark."

Mr Moeller defended the Danish government against the Swedish prime minister's view that "we now see a centre-right government which will be forced to prop itself up with anti-foreigner ideas."

Mr Moeller rejected such accusations.

"We are not having anti-foreigner ideas. What we are trying to say is that we have a lot of immigrants, second generation immigrants who are out of work. The percentage of people out of work is much too high in Denmark."

You can hear the HARDtalk interview in full at the following times:

News 24 (times shown in GMT)
17 January 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT)
17 January 0430, repeated 1130, 1630, 1930, 0030

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Per Stig Moeller
"Let us now see how the euro works."

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See also:

27 Nov 01 | Country profiles
09 Jan 02 | Politics
08 Jan 02 | Business
03 Jan 02 | Business
02 Jan 02 | Europe
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