Providing consular assistance for Estonians overseas is a challenge given that, while Estonian nationals can be found almost everywhere, these usually - with the exception of the North American countries, where concentrations of Estonians are often to be found close to its foreign missions - constitute small numbers, making the debate in the foreign ministry about the allocation of resources quite an active one, the ministry's Secretary General Rainer Saks told daily Postimees.
While two new consulates are due to be opened in South Korea and Singapore, in addition to one already opened in San Francisco, budgetary concerns, coordination with other ministries and state agencies, and a balance with foreign policy's security policy considerations, are all realities that need to be grappled with, Saks said, in an interview given to the paper (link in Estonian).
Speaking in the context of the ministry's Foreign Policy Development plan 2030, which Saks presented this week, the secretary general noted that, particularly with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, communication with citizens is also key – particularly in plugging gaps which e-governance and the e-state do not always catch.
Strengthening Estonia's international public image, improving business connections including in Asian and African nations, utilizing the country's reputation as a global e-services leader in forging new links, and holding up its end as a NATO member and building on connections developed in the campaign to win a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC), are also significant, he said.
As to holiday travel in 2020 in the light of the pandemic, Saks said he hope that planes would only fly to locations where and when it was reasonably safe to do so, even as the danger has subsided since March and April and airlines have become better prepared – though ultimately the wises decision might be to spend the summer vacation in Estonia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte