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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Schr?der Urges Investment in Estonia

BERLIN — German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der has urged Western companies to invest more in Estonia to help the small Baltic country join the European Union soon.

Estonia, a front-runner for EU membership, aims to present its formal application in December 2002, President Lennart Meri said after talks with Schr?der in Berlin late Wednesday.

The EU has set the same deadline to complete its own reforms to prepare for eastward expansion.

"Whoever’s capable of joining at this point will be welcome," Schr?der said.

Estonia, with just 1.4 million people, is hungry for foreign investment as it pushes through market reforms in preparation for EU membership.

"The economic engagement of the West, and especially of Germany, must be strengthened" to help Estonia’s bid, Schr?der said.

German small and medium-sized firms as well as multinationals could profitably invest more in Estonia, he added.

The EU opened accession talks with Poland, Hungary, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic in 1998. Another six candidates were added last January: Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia.