TALLINN - The Estonian prime minister, Andrus Ansip, and the president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, who was on a state visit to Estonia, met for a working lunch during which the prime minister gave President Halonen an overview of Estonia’s readiness to join the euro area at the beginning of next year. Ansip assured the Finnish head of state that Estonia has been fulfilling all of the criteria for joining the euro area, and he thanked Halonen for her support. “The Estonian government is determined to maintain a sustainable budget policy and our goal once again is to have a government budget surplus,” said Ansip.
According to the prime minister, Estonia’s economy is already very closely linked to the euro area and Estonia’s accession to the eurozone will further increase the number of economic ties. “At this point, our government reserves amount to approximately 25 billion kroons (1.6 billion euros), which is 11.7 percent of Estonia’s gross domestic product,” Ansip added.
At the meeting, Ansip expressed his satisfaction with the developments related to carrying out the ‘Estlink 2’ power cable connection project. He said that Estonia had fulfilled all of the preconditions necessary for starting the construction of Estlink 2. Ansip also expressed his hope that there would be no obstacles in implementing the project. Ansip and Halonen discussed the opening of 35 percent of Estonia’s electricity market as of April 1, and Ansip assured Halonen that by the end of the transition period in 2013 Estonia will have opened its electricity market in full. “This means that by the time the Estlink 2 project is completed, we will have a functioning electricity market,” said the prime minister. Estlink 2 is a joint project to build a power cable between Estonia and Finland, which will help to increase supply stability for Estonia.
The planned capacity of Estlink 2 will be 650 Megawatts, and is being planned in co-operation with the Finnish transmission grid company Fingrid.
After the lunch meeting, the president of Finland visited the Riigikogu, where she delivered a speech and met with speaker of the Riigikogu, Ene Ergma. Halonen was accompanied on the state visit by the Finnish Minister of Education Henna Virkkunen, who met with her Estonian counterpart, Tonis Lukas, and visited the Tallinna Uhisgumnaasium secondary school.
During her State visit, Halonen also visited the Estonian Children’s Literature Center and opened an exhibition of works by Finnish artists at the Viinistu Art Museum. Halonen’s previous state visit to Estonia took place in 2000 at the invitation of President Lennart Meri. In 2003, Halonen paid an official visit to Estonia at the invitation of President Arnold Ruutel.