Foreign minister opens new embassy building in London
Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand is on a working visit to the United Kingdom, where she will open the new building of the Estonian Embassy in London.
Estonian diplomatic mission in London, one of the most numerous abroad, will move to a larger building in Kensington area. The embassy’s new address is 44 Queen’s Gate Terrace.
For most of the Cold War, the pre-war Estonian diplomatic staff who remained exile in London, managed to retain the old Estonian legation building – a grand 40-room-mansion also in Queens Gate – despite Soviet pressure on the UK. This was made easier by the fact that Britain refused to recognise the annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union de jure, and continued to treat its diplomats as representatives of the pre-war republic.
However, the financial pressure to maintain such a large building eventually proved too much and it was sold in 1989 – just two years short of Estonia regaining its independence.
The diplomatic mission of the newly independent republic first worked from a basement of the Estonian House in London, eventually acquiring a small but charming building in the Hyde Park Gate.
The embassy now employs 11 people, houses a consular section, hosts receptions for foreign dignitaries and Estonian business delegations – and with the UK being one of the most important allies in recent years, the country needed a more spacious residence in London.
According to Estonian Ambassador to London, Lauri Bambus, one of the main reasons for moving the embassy was the need to offer better consular services. "The bigger rooms of the new building will make receiving visitors much more comfortable," Bambus said.
The new embassy house, almost twice the size of the previous one, was built in 1860 and represents the mid-19th century characteristic Victorian architecture. It is also a protected building. The renovated interior was designed by Estonian designers who were inspired by the forests, bogs and lakes of their home country, thus creating a mini-representation of Estonian nature in the middle of London. The property and renovation work cost over 6 million euros in total.
The old embassy building in Hyde Park Gate will be converted to ambassador's residence, at the cost of 340,000 euros.
Kaljurand will also meet with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond during her visit, discussing allied presence in Estonia, future of the European Union, and developments in Ukraine and Syria.
On Wednesday, the Estonian foreign minister will hold a lecture for members of the University of Oxford's International Relations Society, entitled "Estonia's Foreign Policy Challenges in 2015."
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