*Estonian Finance Minister Aivar Soerd has said that his country is aspiring to join the euro zone on Jan. 1, 2007, according to reports reaching here from the Estonian capital of Tallinn on Saturday.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Soerd said inflation in Estonia runs high in the past period because of soaring world oil prices, but his country will not delay its timeframe to join the euro zone.
Estonia, one of Europe's fastest-growing economies, joined the European Union and NATO last year and wants to join the euro zone in 2007.
Concerns has arisen recently that there is great difficulty for Estonia to meet the criteria laid out in the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force in 1993 and led to the creation of the euro.
The criteria set strict inflation limits on Euro zone's newcomers and requires that inflation of its member states must not exceed 2.3 percent.
Nevertheless, Estonia's Finance Ministry said it expects the annual inflation in Estonia to stand at 3.6 percent this year and 2.6 percent next year