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Estonia: Government Faces Worst Crisis This Year

Tallinn, 19 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Estonian government has fallen into the worst crisis of the year.

The Reform Party, the main coalition partner of the ruling Coalition Party (CP), has threatened to quit the government because the CP and the opposition Center Party have signed bilateral cooperation agreement.

The agreement foresees broad consultations and coordination of activities between the two groups at both central and local levels of government. Last week the Coalition Party and the Center Party formed a new city government in Tallinn, forcing the Reform Party into opposition.

Estonian prime minister and the CP's leader Tiit Vahi told RFE/RL yesterday that the agreement between the CP and the centrists should not conflict with the coalition agreement between his party and the reformists.

Vahi said that the accord with the centrists just envisages bilateral consultations between two groups. Vahi said that if the Reform Party remains opposed to the Center Party joining the government, the reformists' demands would be satisfied.

But the Reform Party seems to think differently. It has said that unless the CP breaks the agreement with the Center Party it will quit the coalition. The Reform Party has said that the CP's must decide on the issue by tomorrow.

Were the Reform Party to leave the government, the CP may try to form a new coalition with the Center Party and the Russian-speakers' parties.