Defense closed, coalition talks now turn to economy ({{commentsTotal}})

The four parties locked in coalition talks have agreed on the underlying principles in defense policy, including keeping spending at 2 percent of GDP, permanent allied presence and a broad-based defense development plan, but talks now move on to the economy, where common ground is expected to be more difficult to find.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, who is leading the talks, said all parties agree security is very important and Estonia must keep improving relations with NATO, but also build up independent defense capability.

Free Party Chairman Andres Herkel said the talks are taking longer than first expected, but the agreement to keep defense spending at 2 percent, plus the cost of keeping allied troops in Estonia, was backed by all involved.

Sven Mikser, head of the Social Democrats, said the four parties are in agreement over defense, but are likely to find more disagreement on other topics.

The four parties will now focus on economic growth, tax reform, state reform and the minimum wage.

The Reform Party, IRL and the Free Party can all be considered right-wing, while the Social Democrats define themselves to the left of center on the political scale.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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