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G-8 ‘World Currency’ Coin’s Creator Seeks Russia Participation

July 15 (Bloomberg) -- The gold coin displayed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at last week’s Group of Eight summit as an illustration of how a future global currency may look, may be made at Russian mints, its originator said. Medvedev pulled out the coin at a news conference on July 10, saying: “Perhaps one day something similar could appear. You would be able to hold it in your hand and use as a means of payment.” Leaders at the summit in L’Aquila, Italy, received the coin as a gift, said former journalist Alessandro Sassoli, author of a project he calls “united future world currency.”     
“We are thinking of involving Russian mints and school students” to find a name for the currency in a competition involving a thousand schools worldwide, Sassoli said by e-mail. He provided Medvedev with a cover letter describing the project and asking for his opinion.    
Medvedev, who has questioned the future of the dollar as the global reserve currency, used the coin to illustrate his call for a mix of new reserve currencies to address the global financial crisis. Russia’s proposals for the G-20 meeting in London in April included the creation of a supranational currency. Russia and China have been pushing for a greater role in the global economy and less U.S. dominance.     
Russia didn’t join China in supporting a call for new reserve currencies at the G-8 summit. Medvedev’s chief economic aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, said the issue of reserve currencies better fits the G-20 format.


‘Unity in Diversity’ 

Medvedev said at the press conference that the fact that the coin has been minted means people “are getting ready.”     
The coin, which bears the digit “1” and the words “unity
in diversity” on one side and “united future world currency” and a bundle of five leaves on the reverse, was made in a limited edition at the Royal Belgian Mint. The obverse was designed by Luc Luycx, author of the common side of euro coins, according to the project’s Web site. Laura Cretara, who designed the reverse, formerly worked as artistic chief at the Italian State Mint.
     The coin, resembling a euro, is 29 millimetres in diameter and weighs 15.55 grams of pure gold, Sassoli said. As many as 20 gold and 150 silver coins have been minted. Sassoli said the G-8 organizers and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government asked for 13 gold and 10 silver coins for the summit.     
Sassoli said he has already received proposals from collectors to sell them for 12,000 euros apiece, though the project so far does not have a commercial interest, he added.     
A former journalist who worked for ‘Il Tempo’ newspaper in Rome, Sassoli, 60, conceived the idea in 1996 after conversations with the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., an assistant to U.S. President John F. Kennedy.       


‘New Currency’ 

“I strongly believe that one day, not far away, another new currency has to be inserted in the economy,” Sassoli said. “This project is driven by a firm belief in the unification and co-existence of different peoples,” according to a brochure for the project. “It aims to promote an increasingly equal distribution of the planet’s resources and human intellect.”     
Sassoli, who also said he organized celebrations of the Italian lira currency in 2002, has so far spent 300,000 euros of his own money and is seeking sponsors to raise funds to present the coin at the 2015 Milan Universal Expo.
Sassoli said he may also present the coin at the G-20 summit in Pittsburg in September. Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said by phone that “the coin will take up its rightful place in the president’s collection of gifts.” She declined to say whether Russia may take part in the project.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Lyubov Pronina in L’Aquila, Italy at +7-495-771-7732 or lpronina@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Chris Kirkham at +44-20-7673-2464 or ckirkham@bloomberg.net

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