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Estonia

Yearbook 1999

Estonia. According to Countryaah official website, the March parliamentary elections revealed a deep dissatisfaction with the economic situation and led to a shift in power. Prime Minister Mart Siimann's party, the Assembly Party (Eesti Koonderakond), which won by almost a third of the votes four years earlier, shrank to 7.6%. Widespread unemployment and poverty in the countryside paved the way for the controversial Edgar Savisaar and Center Party (Eesti Keskarakond), who won the election with 23.4% of the vote. In the election campaign, Savisaar promised tax relief for the poor and increased subsidies to the farmers.

1999 Estonia

But President Lennart Meri did not want to entrust government formation to the authoritarian Savisaar. Instead, the new prime minister became Mart Laar, whose conservative party of the Fatherland (Isamaaliit) took 16% in the election. Laar was also head of government in 1992-94. Now he formed a coalition with the economically liberal Reform Party (Eesti Reformierakond), led by Siim Kallas, who took 15.8%, and Andres Tarands Moderates (Mõõdukad), who got 15%.

Estonia's eligible Russian population was represented in Parliament through the United People's Party (Eestimaa Ühendatud Rahvapartei) with Russian-Estonian Sergei Ivanov as popular front figure. The party received 6.4%. The disputed language law was tightened at the beginning of the year, requiring state employees to be able to master Estonian. The decision was criticized by Russian-speakers, who said it would increase unemployment in the already heavily affected areas in the Northeast.

The entire country's unemployment was officially stated at 5.2% in September, but in reality it was higher. The growth rate in the Estonian economy has slowed down, among other things. because of the Russian economic crisis. The growth forecast for 1999 was 3-4%, compared with just over 11% growth two years earlier.

In June, the new government passed a crisis budget in Parliament, with the sharpest cuts to the state administration. However, the subsidies to the farmers were not reduced, and even single mothers received a slight improvement.

Estonia became a member of the World Trade Organization during the year. The government's goal is for Estonia to be ready for entry into the EU in 2003, but disagreement in Parliament on EU alignment threatens to delay membership. In addition, Estonia has set a target for accession to NATO in 2002, which most analysts consider unrealistic.

In November, Parliament called on the Russian Federation to end the war in Chechnya, and President Meri boycotted the OSCE summit in Istanbul in protest that the organization was no longer actively seeking to end the war.

The Estonian government and Estonian relatives of the victims of the Estonia disaster welcomed the Swedish government's decision during the year to refrain from salvaging the perished.

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