Diplomat: Let us discuss closing embassies in far away lands

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European Union Ambassador to Ukraine Matti Maasikas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Former foreign ministry secretary-general and current European Union Ambassador to Ukraine Matti Maasikas is calling for "critical and immediate" discussions about closing embassies in lands far away from Estonia to strengthen the diplomatic presence near more important allies.

Estonia currently has embassies in 38 countries.

"The priority of networking must be to set up representations with allies and neighbors. Strengthening existing ones first and then perhaps a few new ones," Maasikas wrote for magazine Diplomaatia.

He points out that Estonia only opened embassies where it had political and security interests until 2010. "From 2010 and beyond - with an embassy opened in Romania in 2016 as an exception - we have dealt with presenting us as larger and more rich than we are," Maasikas noted, asking how affordable and necessary it is for Estonian diplomats to be present in Delhi, Canberra, Abu Dhabi and soon in Singapore and Seoul. Another embassy is planned for Nairobi, Kenya.

"We are currently justifying opening new embassies with more active economic dealings," Maasikas writes. "At the same time, we do not even want to notice countries closer when it comes to representing Estonian economic affairs. From last year, only one economy official is on staff at the embassy in Riga, Latvia."

While calling for embassies in far away lands to be closed or lessened, Maasikas emphasizes that foreign policy and foreign economic policy both begin from home, then neighbors and then allies.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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