Reform Party nominates Marina Kaljurand as new foreign minister ({{commentsTotal}})

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The Reform Party board was discussing this morning who should be Estonia's next foreign minister and decided to name Marina Kaljurand as their official candidate for the post.

Kaljurand's candidacy now needs the approval of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Ilves is believed to be in favor and it is not ruled out that he encouraged Rõivas to pick Kaljurand.

Ilves said in an interview with Postimees last week that the person in charge of Estonia's foreign affairs at the time of tense security situation should be someone with a “professional foreign policy vision”, someone who motivates and utilizes the full potential of Foreign Ministry and its diplomatic service, not merely a person who can “word smooth press statements.”

Ilves also said that party politics should be put aside, when considering the best candidates – a hint of a possible replacement from the diplomatic ranks. “To fill this important position, the most important condition should be the previous experience and understanding of how the European Union operates – how to stand up for Estonian interests within the EU and how to compromise when needed.”

Marina Kaljurand began her career at the Foreign Ministry in 1991 and has since worked as Estonian ambassador to the United States and Mexico, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Israel and Canada.

Fluent in both English and Russian, she played an important role as an expert and negotiator in the process of Russian troops' withdrawal from Estonia in 1994 and in negotiations on land and maritime boundary agreements between Estonia and the Russian Federation, as well as in the accession negotiations of Estonia to the European Union and to the OECD.

Kaljurand earned her law degree from the University of Tartu and also has a professional diploma from Estonian School of Diplomacy and an M.A. degree in International Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University.

She is a founding member of the Estonian branch of the International Law Association and of Estonian branch of Women in International Security.

Kaljurand does not belong to any political party and currently works as the Undersecretary of Political Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Give me time," she told this morning to journalists enquiring about her plans to join the party.

Her appointment would be seen as a coup for the generally unpopular government – not just because in appointing male minister instead, the government would only have one female Cabinet member left – but Kaljurand, born Rajevskaya, can also speak for Estonian ethnic minorities, as she is of Latvian and Russian descent through her father and mother, respectively.

Current minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus resigned last week, following the Tallinn Circuit Court decision which made her partly liable for dept accumulated by her father's bankrupt company Autorollo.

Editor: M. Oll, S. Tambur

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