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Thatcher, Major Influence on 1990s Estonian Economic Policy, Dead at 87

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the leading influences on the reformist policies practiced by successive Estonian governments since re-independence, has died, drawing eulogies from current leaders.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Latvian President Andris Bērziņš, who were meeting today at the president's personal Ärma farm, said Britain had lost a leader and politician whose legacy had wide implications for Europe and beyond.

"Eastern European countries will always remember Baroness Thatcher's fortitude in standing up to communist regimes and her fight for freedom and democracy in our part of Europe," read the presidents' message of condolence to the Thatcher family, Prime Minister David Cameron and the British people.

Thatcher, along with contemporaries Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II,  inspired those who would form Estonia's first governments and break decisively with Soviet-era policies, served as British premier from 1979-1990. She died afer a stroke today, the BBC and Reuters reported.

Of the three, it was Thatcher's economic policies in particular that were often cited by Mart Laar, the country's prime minister who came to power after the first post-independence parliamentary elections, as the blueprint for his free-market reforms.

In 2010, Laar told the Freakonomics Radio podcast: "The flat tax I got on my first meeting with Margaret Thatcher, who I admired very much and who was a great admirer of Milton Friedman. I met her first when I had been prime minister I think for some months and so on, and when I told her what I am planning to do, she looked at me with these big eyes and said 'you are one brave young man.' And then a little bit introduced me on the realities of the Western world on which I was not very well informed. But I didn’t stop."

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