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Bulgaria Abandoning Eurozone Push On Concerns Over Debt Crisis, EU Economy

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SOFIA, Sept 3 - Bulgaria has abandoned plans to adopt the single currency in response to deteriorating economic conditions and rising uncertainty over the prospects of the European Union, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov was quoted as saying on Monday.

The EU's poorest member became the latest country to cool its enthusiasm for joining the euro zone - a longtime strategic aim of successive governments in the Balkan state.

Bulgaria is also one of EU's least indebted members and is trying to stick to tight fiscal discipline to avoid risks to the lev currency, which is pegged to the euro.

"Right now, I don't see any benefits of entering the euro zone, only costs," Djankov said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

"It's too risky for us and it's also not certain what the rules are and what are they likely to be in one year or two."

Djankov added that he still expects Bulgaria's economy to expand by around 1.5 percent in 2012.

However, he warned that the euro zone could face up to five years with "zero growth" if the European countries' leaders continue to mull policy responses to the crisis instead of fully backing Germany's call to continue strict fiscal consolidation.

Bulgaria's finance ministry was not immediately available for comment.

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