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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 8,383 6,413 5,500 95
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 3,870 4,130 3,870 72
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 315 - (29/03/07)

Estonia incumbent PM wins world's first internet election
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said all options were open for a new coalition after a slim election win. 

The March 6th election gave his Reform Party 31 seats in the 101-seat parliament, a big jump from 19. Mr Ansip benefited from strong growth figures and rising wealth to record the highest personal score for a candidate in any election at 22,000 votes. 

Mr Ansip, a centre-right politician who has overseen growth of more than 11 per cent, has been in power since April 2005 with the left-leaning Centre Party. 

But Mr Ansip said the programme of his Reform Party was closer to that of the nationalist Pro Patria-Res Publica bloc. "At this stage, you do not find a party leader who rules out co-operation with another party and I do not either," he said. 

Mr Ansip, who backs more tax cuts but is reluctant to put brakes on the economy to speed euro adoption, said differences remained over economic policy with the Centre Party, particularly on the question of raising salaries for public sector workers, which the Centre backs. 

The election, the first in the world to be held partially via the Internet, gave the Centre Party 29 seats while Pro Patria-Res Publica took 19, a better performance than expected. 

Mr Ansip and the Centre Party had ruled with a third, smaller coalition partner, the People's Union, which won six seats. 

Ruling Reform Party ponders coalition partners
The centre-right Reform Party, winner of Estonia's parliamentary elections in early March, decided after discussing the results of preliminary consultations to continue bilateral coalition-building talks with the right-wing Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, the Greens and the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

Reform's first preference for coalition partner would be the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, which have similar policy agendas. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, leader of the Reform Party, told reporters after a meeting of the party board that leftist forces would also have to be included in the alliance.

Ansip said the future coalition needs to have a broad-base in order to survive the full four-year term of office. He therefore voiced the hope that further consultations with the Social Democrats will lead to formal coalition talks and the eventual signing of a coalition agreement.

Ansip did not rule out continuing the alliance with Reform's current partner, the left-leaning Centre Party. He said there is more clarity regarding Centre, after two years' cooperation in government it is well known what unites and what separates the two.

He cited Centre's promise of a wage reform as the main bone of contention, saying a coalition of the two were possible only if Centre agreed that wages would rise at the same pace as productivity. "If we fail to come to an agreement [on this issue] a coalition with the Centre Party will be totally ruled out for us," Ansip said.

According to Ansip, the Reform Party's biggest differences with the Social Democrats and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union are in questions about taxation. Ansop also added, however, that they would not be looking to for a coalition if they did not think it possible to overcome these issues.

The Reformist leader said the meeting with Green party delegations turned out pleasant and promising. Nevertheless, he said that thorough consultations are necessary as little is yet known about the new party, as they lack previous parliament and government experience. 

According to Ansip, all combinations of parties to form a coalition are possible at this point and thus the possibility that both the Greens and the SDP will be invited to join the new government cannot be ruled out. Should Reform Party, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, Greens and Social Democrats all agree to form a coalition, they would command 66 seats in the 101-member parliament.

The Reform Party is in daily ongoing consultations with the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, the Social Democrats and the Greens. Ansip said the meetings will focus on establishing common ground. If the parties are able to answer key questions and it can be concluded that an agreement among the parties is possible, then the talks will continue on the multilateral level.

Ansip reiterated today Reform's wish to wind up coalition talks and have an agreement in place before the new parliament convenes.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

President calls for more EU-NATO cooperation 

Estonia President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, said at a news conference in Helsinki on March 14th that it was important to further increase cooperation between NATO and the European Union, News Room Finland reported. 
The president said that such closer cooperation "is considered vital in Estonia" as small countries in particular cannot afford to keep two parallel defence systems. President Ilves made his comments after talks with his Finnish opposite number Tarja Halonen. During their meeting, the two presidents had mainly discussed bilateral relations, which were lauded as good and unproblematic.

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