Kaljurand: Closing of embassies to be discussed in March
The Foreign Ministry will start discussing possible structural changes and the closing of embassies in mid-March, Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand (non-partisan) said on Wednesday. The downsizing of consular services is part of the government's cost-cutting plan.
"The first substantive discussion in the Foreign Ministry will be held some time in the middle of March. We'll see where we have come to by then," Kaljurand said at a press conference.
By that time a review of the tasks performed by the ministry and the functions that could be handed over to other ministries will have been done. They will also look into internal reorganization as a means of cutting costs.
Kaljurand said that while the cost-cutting targets for 2016 agreed on by the government were realistic, new job cuts in the coming years will face the ministry with difficult choices.
"We definitely won't be doing things in a hurry. Nor do I have any deadlines by which time things have to be done. It has to be reasonable, it has to be rational, it has to be well thought-out so that we won't have to think back again after a year or a couple of years," Kaljurand said, adding that the ministry wasn’t planning to drag its feet.
Kaljurand said in the Riigikogu on 11 February that Estonia had to close some of its embassies to meet the government's cost-cutting targets. "Considering the financial situation and the people the Foreign Ministry has, we are no longer able to maintain a network of embassies like we have them," she said.
Kaljurand wasn't specific about which foreign capitals would end up without an embassy, saying that she would sit down with the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss the subject.
On 1 December 2015, Estonia had 46 missions in other countries, including 35 embassies, seven representations at international organizations, three consulates general and one consular office.