Estonia swears in EU’s youngest PM, Taavi Roivas

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(AFP) – Estonia’s new Prime Minister Taavi Roivas became the European Union’s youngest head of government on Wednesday after parliament swore in his new bi-partisan cabinet.

Roivas, 34, has brought together his centre-right Reform Party with the leftist Social Democrats, who crossed over from the opposition ahead of a general election next spring.

His coalition commands a wafer-thin majority of just 52 seats in the 101-member parliament.

“I’m aiming to stay prime minister after the spring 2015 election,” Roivas told Estonia’s top-selling Postimees daily on Wednesday.

Roivas has vowed to make security a priority as tensions run high in Estonia and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Lithuania over moves by their Soviet-era master Russia in Ukraine.

Estonia broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991 before joining the EU and NATO in 2004 in a bid to secure independence from Russia.

But officials fear its large ethnic-Russian minority, which makes up a quarter of its 1.3 million citizens, could make it vulnerable to interference from Moscow.

The chubby-cheeked Roivas replaces Andrus Ansip, who stepped down as premier this month after a record nine years in office.

The Reform Party is the largest in Estonia’s parliament, holding 33 of the 101 seats, but its support dropped to around 21 percent of voters this year, down from a peak of 45 percent in May 2007.

 

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