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Former centrist leader suggests referendum on single currency

HELSINKI, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Finland's former foreign minister and the Center Party's former chairman Paavo Vayrynen is suggesting a referendum in Finland on whether the country should remain in the euro zone, media reported on Thursday.

Vayrynen has drawn up a civic initiative that could require the parliament to take stand on whether to arrange such a referendum. If the initiative gets 50,000 signatures, the parliament must have a go at it.

Vayrynen told national broadcaster Yle on Thursday that the fifteen-year experience so far indicates that the decision to join euro was a mistake. The preceding Finnish currency was markka, launched in 1856.

A poll by business-oriented think tank EVA earlier in 2015 indicated that 27 percent of Finns were opposed to the European Union and the single currency while 42 percent backed both.

Vayrynen said on Thursday that a comparison to Sweden shows that Finland made a mistake in joining the euro as one of the founding countries. Sweden has maintained its currency the krona.

The initiative passed formal scrutiny by the Ministry of Justice and was published on Thursday on the official Finnish page for civic initiatives, kansalaisaloite.fi.

To be taken up by parliament, civic initiatives require fifty thousand verified signatures by Finnish citizens. Signing can be done physically or on the internet.

Vayrynen is currently a Member of the European Parliament. He won a seat in Finnish parliamentary elections in 2015 but chose not to take up his position and rather remain in the European Parliament.

referendum is a rare practice in Finland. Finns voted on whether the country joins the European Union in 1994. When Finland joined the euro there was no referendum.

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