A US diplomat described in Estonia as a leading architect of NATO enlargement has taken the helm of the Tallinn-based International Center for Defense Studies.
The new director is American career diplomat Matthew Bryza, who will be in charge of general direction and coordination of the center's academic work.
Bryza, 48, left the US foreign service in January, after controversy generated by some interest groups in Washington over his posting as Ambassador to Azerbaijan in light of its long-running conflict with Armenia.
During the latest Bush administration, Bryza was most associated with the Caucasus region. In June 2005, he took the post of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
But he also has an intimate grasp of Eastern Europe dating from his earlier career as a diplomat in Warsaw, when he cultivated ties with the Solidarity trade union confederation, once instrumental in toppling the country's communist regime.
The Center's supervisory board director Lauri Mälksoo said Bryza's new position will help the center increase its international prestige and profile.
"The Center for Defense Studies is an international think tank and thus there is reason to think of it in big, ambitious terms, on the scale of our region and the world," he said.
In August 2010, Kadri Liik stepped down from the post of director of the Center over a case of misappropriation of funds by a staff member.