Cyprus has set Jan. 1, 2008, as the official target date for joining the euro zone and has invited design proposals for its euro coins, a government official said Thursday. Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004 and had planned to adopt the 12-nation euro currency at the beginning of 2007. But this date was considered unrealistic given the country's budget deficit, which stood at 4.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2004.
"The Finance Minister, in collaboration with the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, will give six-monthly reports on progress toward the introduction of the single European Union currency in Cyprus," government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said.
Cyprus aims to reduce its budget deficit to 2.9 percent of GDP in 2005, just under the 3 percent ceiling set for euro zone members. The Central Bank of Cyprus has already launched a competition to select the design for the Cypriot euro coins, which must carry the name of Cyprus in Greek, Turkish and English. Currently, the map on euro notes and coins doesn't include Cyprus. A.M.