Estonian President Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian and Estonian counterpart President Arnold Ruutel decided to bolster commercial contacts during an official meeting in Yerevan on Monday.

Following their talks–the two officials said they discussed means to revive bilateral economic ties that existed before the collapse of the Soviet Union. They presided over the opening session of an Estonian-Armenian business forum later in the day.

According to Armenian government figures–the volume of Armenian-Estonian trade over the past four years is a meager $1.5 million. Ruutel–who had for years headed Soviet Estonia’s parliament before spearheading its independence drive in 1988–said his country’s recent accession to the European Union (EU) and Armenia’s inclusion in the EU’s New Neighborhood program should boost commercial exchange.

"Estonia is very interested in developing cooperation with Armenia," the 76-year-old president told a news conference. He also said Estonia is ready to share with Armenia its highly successful experience in the transition to democracy and a market economy.

The tiny Baltic state is the most economically developed in the former Soviet Union and is considered an established democracy in the West.

Estonia is also known for its widespread use of information technology by government agencies and business community. Over 90 percent of Estonians have access to the Internet–making their economy one of the most IT-oriented in Europe.

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