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Visit to Australia by Prime Minister of Estonia



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

A x AUSTRALIA /L

FA88 1 July 1998

VISIT TO AUSTRALIA BY PRIME MINISTER OF ESTONIA

I am pleased that Mr Mart Siimann, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, will be making his first visit to Australia from 2-8 July. He will visit Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney with a key focus on enhancing trade and investment opportunities between our two countries.

Australia was one of the first countries to recognise Estonia's return to independence in August 1991. Australia has also supported Estonia's successful integration into the global community and its adoption of market-oriented economic policies.

Estonia will be part of the first "wave" of countries to negotiate membership of the EU. These developments can be expected to open up new opportunities for Australian exporters and investors. Estonia is also potentially valuable as a gateway to the Russian market.

Australia and Estonia have strong cultural links. Australia has the fourth largest community of Estonians abroad - approximately 15,000, including second and third-generation and includes such public figures as Sir Arvi Parbo. The Estonian community in Australia is an important asset for both countries in enhancing commercial and cultural links.

Mr Siimann was elected Prime Minister of Estonia in 1997.

In Canberra, Mr Siimann will call on the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. I will be hosting a luncheon in his honour which will include a number of representatives of the Estonian-Australian community.

In Melbourne, Mr Siimann will meet the Premier, members of the Estonian community and attend a luncheon at the Institute of Public Affairs. He will also attend the Melbourne Symphony's performance of Jonah's Mission by Estonian composer Rudolf Tobias. Worlds renowned and Estonian-born conductor, Neeme Jarvi will lead the orchestra.

In Sydney Mr Siimann will meet the Deputy Premier and representatives of the Estonian community.

Media contact. Innes Willox 0411 414 695