Foreign Ministry no place to save money, says IRL's Marko Mihkelson
Chairman of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee Marko Mihkelson (IRL) said on Wednesday that the state shouldn’t try to save money by narrowing the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I certainly don’t agree with the approach of the state to try and find the money they’re looking for by means of layoffs and cuts in the Foreign Ministry,” Mihkelson said in Vikerraadio’s “Vikerhommik” morning show yesterday.
Host Rasmus Kagge referred to part of a speech Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand (non-party) held in the Riigikogu last week, where she mentioned the option to save money by downsizing Estonia’s network of diplomatic representations abroad. Kagge called the salary levels in the ministry “ridiculous” and pointed out that the Internal Security Service had been saying for years that this represented a potential security risk.
Mihkelson said that it was no secret that the Foreign Ministry was chronically underfunded, and that this was the case in plenty of other countries as well. “I said in my speech during the debate that I hope that Marina Kaljurand will be the first Foreign Minister to really care about the funding of her office. In any case the Foreign Ministry shouldn’t have to worry about cost effectivity, because while we turn our attention to our ability to defend ourselves by whatever means, be it by military exercises or whatever else, it is just as important that we have a very well-working diplomatic service,” Mihkelson added.
He went on to say that it was the diplomatic service that was at the forefront of influencing partners and allies, and that it could also predict conflicts that might arise. Mihkelson also said that he saw it as the Foreign Minister’s role to explain these necessities to the Riigikogu and ask them for their support.
“It’s a pity that Kaljurand left just this matter out of her speech last week, but I believe that there are quite a few allies also in our parliament that would support a strengthening of the diplomatic service instead of making them weaker,” Mihkelson said.