BRUSSELS Lithuania aims to join the euro next year, seeking to emulate its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Latvia, the head of the bloc's finance ministers said on Monday.
Joining the euro would cement Lithuania's shift away from Russia two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union and provide the euro zone with another morale boost just two years after a debt crisis threatened the bloc's break-up.
It is the country's second attempt to join, after an earlier failed bid when it missed a target for inflation.
"Lithuania has expressed its intention to join the euro on January 1 2015," Jeroen Dijsselbloem said, following a meeting of the 18 finance ministers in the currency bloc. "They are very determined."
Euro zone finance ministers and the European Central Bank will decide on whether to admit Lithuania after the European Commission publishes its a report in early June saying whether it is ready.
Dijsselbloem declined to give more details on any decision.
If admitted, Lithuanian will join the currency bloc of just over 330 million people, making it the 19th member and hoping the decision will help lift trade and investment. Fellow Baltic nation Latvia joined in January and Estonia joined in 2011.
(Reporting by John O'Donnell and Martin Santa; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Alison Williams)