US has had no ambassador present in Estonia for over three years
The position of United States Ambassador to Estonia still remains vacant ten months after Joe Biden being sworn in as president. The embassy in Tallinn said the process of appointing an ambassador is ongoing.
The previous ambassador to Estonia from the U.S., William Ellison Grayson, a Trump appointee, never physically arrived in Tallinn, meaning the last ambassador to actually be present on the ground was James D. Melville. Melville resigned in summer 2018, before his term was due to end, citing differences of opinion on statements Trump had made about NATO and EU allies.
U.S. Embassy press attaché Mark Naylor told ERR Friday that relations between the two nations were nonetheless strong.
He said: "In the absence of an ambassador, cooperation between the U.S. and Estonia remains as strong and robust as ever. In just the past month, President Biden met with Prime Minister Kallas, our Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried visited Tallinn and met with Foreign Minister Liimets, and officials at the U.S. Department of Defense hosted Ministry of Defense Permanent Secretary Salm for consultations.
"As Assistant Secretary Donfried said during her visit, the U.S.-Estonia partnership is as strong as it has ever been," Naylor continued.
"The process of selecting the next U.S. Ambassador to Estonia is ongoing," Naylor said in Friday's statement.
"We look forward to welcoming that person to Tallinn once the selection and confirmation processes are completed."
James D. Melville, a career diplomat, was appointed by Barack Obama, replacing Jeffrey D. Levine, whose term had ended, and presented his credentials to Estonia's president at the time, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in December 2015.
While Donald Trump appointed Grayson, a fund manager from California, ambassador, in September 2019, Grayson did not receive Senate approval until the following August, while Trump left office in January this year.
Joe Biden has appointed over 60 ambassadors since entering office, ERR reports, but not all have taken up their posts, and several other European countries are still without a sitting ambassador. U.S. Ambassador to Finland is Doug Hickey, while the ambassador to Latvia is listed as John L. Carwile.
The Biden administration had pledged to start the appointment process for a Tallinn ambassador in February of this year.
U.S. military cooperation in Estonia has been ongoing through all that time, with highlights including last year's loan of two drones, based at Ämari air base for several months, and this year's mass para jump over Järva County, which members of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division took part in alongside those of the U.K.'s Parachute Regiment. Iconic U.S. warplanes including the famed B-52 Stratofortress and the Rockwell B-1B Lancer occasionally make overflights in Estonian airspace.
The U.S. Embassy remains at its current address in central Tallinn; discussions about relocating to, appropriately enough, Suur-Ameerika street have not borne fruit up to this point.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has met Joe Biden twice, face-to-face; earlier this month at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and at June's NATO summit.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte