Positive tendencies have lately appeared in economic cooperation between Estonia and Russia, leader of the Centrist Party of Estonia (CPE) and Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar believes.

Interviewed by Itar-Tass in Brussels, he noted that cooperation was being promoted among banks and firms of the two countries. "Firstly, Russia is our ancient economic partner, secondly, it has a huge market, and we are interested in it," Savisaar stated, when asked what the prospects for Estonian- Russian relations would be after his country's accession to the European Union.

The first post-Soviet Estonian premier and, as believed in Brussels, a very possible candidate to the post of prime minister, has paid a three-day visit here to prepare the ground for his country's accession to the European Union. As earlier reported, the European Commission had recommended last July in its programme document "Agenda -- 2000" to include Estonia, alongside with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Cyprus, in the "first wave" of talks on membership in the European Union. Savisaar's visit pursued the purpose of demonstrating the unity of all the political forces of Estonia on the country's accession to the Union.

"I have been to Moscow during the celebration of its 850th anniversary, where I met many politicians, whom I have known for many years," Savisaar said. "First of all, I noted that Moscow was now developing at a very fast pace and that on the whole Russia was making economic progress. These processes are tangible and hopeful."

In his opinion, it is no great tragedy or threat to the unity of the Baltic nations that only Estonia was invited to take part in the first wave of talks on accession to the European Union, which will begin early next year. "Some are ahead of others, while the others are catching up with them," he stated.

Savisaar left Brussels with a large "home assignment". Estonia has much to do yet in order to add hundreds of European standards and rules to its legislation. The administrative reform there is not making sufficiently rapid progress. Propaganda of the EU goals among the population is also an important problem. Today, accession to the Union is still merely the business of politicians. Most Estonians, the Mayor admitted, are indifferent to it, because they see no concrete benefit for themselves from the accession to any union of their republic, which had restored its independence but a short time ago.

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