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Estonia: Two Parties Agree To Form Government

Tallinn, 17 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The pro-business Reform and leftist Center parties today reached a preliminary agreement to form the next Estonian government. Estonian President Arnold Ruutel, who is on a visit to Lithuania today, said he expects to nominate the next Estonian prime minister tomorrow.

The two parties are from opposite ends of the political spectrum but according to Reform party spokeswoman Triinu Rajasalu the new government would serve more as a caretaker administration leading to parliamentary elections next year.

Combined, the two parties have just 46 seats in the 101-seat parliament but hope to win approval with support from small parties. Both parties support EU and NATO membership.

Last week, Prime Minister Mart Laar resigned over infighting in his three-party coalition, which he said would jeopardize Estonia's bids for EU and NATO membership.