November 4, 1998.
Prime Minister Siimann met today at Toompea with Melissa Wells, thenew US Ambassador. In their candid and friendly discussion, Siimann andWells talked about the privatization of Estonia's electricity generatingplants, Estonia's aspirations for NATO membership, proposals for changesin the citizenship law, and negotiations with the World Trade Organization(WTO).
Melissa Wells, who is of Estonian heritage, said that presenting hercredentials to the President of Estonia was of special significance toher. "I have presented credentials four times in my life. But presentingcredentials to the President of my land of birth, which had become freeafter a 50 year interval, was akin to a dream come true." Siimann saidthat he is happy over the warm reception Estonians have given to the newUS Ambassador.
Siimann gave Wells an overview of the government's latest decisionson the privatization of electricity generating plants. He stated that inprivatization, Estonia follows principles of transparency and openness.Wells said that many US investors are following the privatization of theelectricity generating plants very attentively, and in her opinion, itis also important that the negotiations proceed according to sound principlesand transparency.
The Prime Minister said that the privatization can occur only with theinclusion of a strategic investor and he promised that the government willshortly appoint a negotiator who will start negotiations for the privatizationof the electricity generating plants. In accordance with the decision ofthe government on October 27, the government will start negotiations firstwith the US capitalized company, NRG International B.V.
When discussing NATO, the Prime Minister expressed hope that Estoniawill hear definite decisions at the Washington NATO summit meeting. "Wewish to be a good candidate and will do everything in our power to achievethat."
Wells gave an overview of US positions on NATO enlargement and averredthat preparations for the Washington summit meeting are still going on.In her opinion, it is difficult to predict NATO invitations to new candidatemembers at the Washington summit meeting. "I think that at the Washingtonmeeting one can expect clearer advancement of the Madrid summit meetingmessage."
The Prime Minister said to Melissa Wells that the Estonian governmentcertainly supports the inclusion of changes in the citizenship law, grantingcitizenship to the children of non-citizens.
The Prime Minister gave to the Ambassador an overview of Estonia's nationalbudget and its priorities. Siimann and Wells also discussed WTO negotiations.Siimann said that Estonia hopes to conclude negotiations with WTO in Februaryof next year, at the latest, and is interested in reaching agreements withUSA as soon as possible on those questions that, to date, still remainopen.