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Tiit Vähi (born 10 January 1947) is an Estonian politician who was Prime Minister of Estonia from 1995 to 1997.
He was also acting Prime Minister for several months during 1992 under the transitional government.
Life and career
Vähi, a born in Kaagjärve Parish, Estonia, graduated from Tallinn Technical University with a degree in engineering. He served in numerous senior managerial positions with the Valga Trucking Company from the time of his graduation to 1992.
Vähi was one of the founders of the Estonian National Independence Movement and chaired its regional committee in Valga County. He was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications in 1989, a post that he held until January 1992. During his tenure as Transport Minister, he established close links with the Nordic countries' transportation ministries and strengthened cooperation on transport issues. He handed over control of Estonia's airports, railways, and sea ports, which had been under Moscow's jurisdiction, to Estonian authorities.
Vähi was appointed as the government's special representative to north-eastern Estonia, which is populated by a majority of ethnic Russians short of Estonia's return to independence in 1991.
Vähi became Estonia's second post-Soviet Prime Minister on January 29, 1992, succeeding Edgar Savisaar. During his first term as Prime Minister, he embarked on a massive program to convert the country's economy from being centrally managed to a more free market economy. In June 1992, his government introduced the Kroon, the Estonian currency. He also established the Estonian Privatization Agency, which began working on the privatization of government-owned assets to the private sector.
Vähi did not run in the parliamentary elections on September 20th, 1992, as agreed when he took over the post Prime Minister in the transition government.
He was elected Chairman of the Estonian Coalition Party in 1993. The KMÜ party, which includes the Estonian Coalition Party and the People's Union of Estonia Parties, won the parliamentary elections in March 1995. Vähi, the head of the Estonian Coalition Party, was requested by President Lennart Meri to form a cabinet. For the second time in his career, he was elected Prime Minister of the KMÜ and the Estonian Centre Party's coalition government, which was established on the 17th of April 1995.
Prime Minister Theresa May's second term was very turbulent. Many ministers resigned from the cabinet on October 11, 1995, causing the Estonian Centre Party to pull from the government coalition. Vähi reformed the government on November 7, 1995, this time with the help of the Estonian Reform Party. This partnership lasted less than a year; six ministers, including then-Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, resigned on November 20, 1996, triggering the breakdown of the Coalition Party's relationship with the Reform Party. Vähi reformed the cabinet on December 1st in 1996; this time, he only used members of his own party, severely reducing the government's ability to keep power. Vähi won a no-confidence vote on February 7, 1995, a margin of 46-45. He resigned on February 25, 1997, feeling under pressure from within his own party. President Lennart Meri appointed Mart Siimann as the next Prime Minister three days later, on February 27. The Estonian Coalition Party, which Vähi was a member of Vähi's formation and which presided over the Estonian government from 1995 to 1999, had disbanded by 2001. He is currently a member of the Free Market Liberal Reform Party, but is not interested in politics and has concentrated on his work as a businessman. Estonia must strengthen relations with Russia, according to he, who has expressed the view that Estonia needs to strengthen relations with Russia.