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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 13:38 GMT
Estonian banker is new PM
Siim Kallas
Kallas: Pledging to combat social injustice
A pro-European Estonian banker has been confirmed as the country's new prime minister.

We'll do everything to conclude, in a businesslike and efficient manner, our negotiations to join the EU

Siim Kallas
Siim Kallas, who headed the central bank before becoming finance minister, replaces Mart Laar, who resigned after squabbling in his coalition.

His appointment was confirmed by 62 votes to 31 in the country's parliament, the Riigikogu.

Mr Kallas told parliament he would try to lead the country towards EU and Nato membership.

"We'll do everything to conclude, in a businesslike and efficient manner, our negotiations to join the EU," he said.

Estonian prime minister
Laar: Resigned after coalition infighting
"We continue our course towards joining Nato."

But he said pursuing social justice at home would also be a key objective.

"Every second Estonian has a mobile phone in their pocket, but then there are more and more of those who have not reaped the benefits of success," said Mr Kallas.

Warning on division

This growing divide "could one day sweep away everything that we have achieved," he warned.

Mr Kallas' business-orientated Reform Party will share power in a new coalition with the left-of-centre Centrist Party, which was previously in opposition.

Two other parties not in the coalition also backed his appointment as prime minister.

Mr Kallas now has two weeks to form a cabinet, and will then have to win final parliamentary approval before he can take power.

A chronology of key events
See also:

08 Jan 02 | Europe
Estonian premier quits
10 Jan 02 | Europe
Estonia's power vacuum
09 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Estonia
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