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The President of the Republic Address at Estonian-Moldovan business forum On March 21, 2006, Chisinau

Honourable President Voronin!
Ministers, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

Thank you for the cordial reception and kind words of greeting!

It is our third day in Moldova and during this time we have discovered for ourselves the biggest ''natural resource'' of Moldova: the people of Moldova. Your cordial and open attitude, ambitiousness and intelligence of your people allow us to believe in the consistency of economic and societal development in Moldova. At previous official meetings we have repeatedly confirmed our serious interest in cooperation with Moldova and our readiness to support you along your chosen path.

The cooperation between our two countries rests upon the existence of several similarities in the history of Estonia and Moldova, but also upon the fact that as small countries located on the border between the East and the West, our choices concerning the future are similar in many aspects. Estonia has become a member state of the European Union, and the EU's eastern border will soon reach Moldova.

In the restoration of Estonia's independence, one of the driving ideas was returning to the European cultural space. This was accompanied with the orientation to become economically integrated with Europe that reached its full momentum following the commencement of accession negotiations in 1998.

Radical reforms, both in economy and in the state generally, started already fifteen years ago. Our reforms were targeted to achieve openness of our society, inviolability of private property, promotion of free market and private enterprise. As a result of the reforms we relatively quickly achieved a stable economic environment. This process was facilitated by our European Union oriented aspirations that included strengthening of institutional and legal basis and modernisation of enterprises.

Those were step by step, but at the same time, consistent changes that brought along increase of our international partners' confidence in us. That environment has facilitated foreign direct investments that we have by now accumulated per capita more than in many other countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Foreign investments and the process of European integration have meant for our enterprises enhancement of international competitiveness and better access to international financial markets and goods and services market. Approximately 80 per cent of our export of goods goes to the EU countries, and our interest rates are comparable with those in the euro-zone. As the result of all that, Estonia is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe: in the years 2000 – 2005 the average growth in GDP exceeded 7.5 per cent and the last year’s economic growth was even close to 10 per cent. In comparable prices, our per capita GDP accounts for more than half of the EU's average. Also the number of people employed is increasing and unemployment has fallen to a level that is lower than the EU's average.

This is why Estonia supports Moldova's reform process and its European-oriented aspirations. I am sincerely pleased that the cooperation between our two countries has noticeably intensified in recent years. At least in the public sector it has reached a very practical level - as examples of cooperation areas, we can underline here enhancement of administrative capacity, use of information and communication technology, and development of an information society. Our cooperation has started successfully as both sides have concrete and active interest in it.

I know that Estonian entrepreneurs and investors are seriously interested in Moldova, and several of them are at present here today. Though it is our third day in Moldova, our business delegation has already visited several local enterprises. The information and contacts received from toady's business forum will certainly enhance our bilateral trade and investments.

I wish you a successful forum and many pleasant contacts today and also in the future.

© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l