Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has awarded the Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to just over 50 diplomats and partners from Estonia and beyond, in recognition of their notable contribution to the Estonian foreign service, its foreign policy objectives and Estonian statehood.
Reinsalu said this year's awards were particularly noteworthy.
"In this pivotal year, when Russia launched its war against Ukraine and completely transformed the security situation across all of Europe, we must remember and thank all colleagues who have worked tirelessly to defend Estonia's interests in the international arena, the values cherished by the West, and to ensure Ukraine has the help it needs to win the war," the foreign minister said via a press release.
"A total of 51 people receive Crosses of Merit this year. We can see clearly that people are the most valuable asset of Estonia's foreign policy, as they make sure the voice of a small country is heard and makes a difference across the world," he went on.
The Cross of Merit, First Class, for extraordinary services in raising Estonia's profile in the world, and contributing to Estonia's independence or important international cooperation, has awarded to Estonia's Ambassador in Kyiv, Kaimo Kuusk, and the Defense Attache in the Ukrainian capital, Vahur Murulaid, for successfully representing Estonia throughout the course of the war.
Ambassador of the EU to Ukraine Matti Maasikas has been given the same award, for maintaining the resolve of the union and representing the EU during the war.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has also been awarded with the Cross of Merit, First Class, as has former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"The heroes this year are Ukrainians who have fought for more than eight months now in Russia's full-scale war with extraordinary bravery and resolve. This is why the highest recognition of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Cross of Merit, First Class, is awarded to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, both of whom have also been defending the security of Europe all this time," Reinsalu continued.
The ministry is also recognzing former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the Cross of Merit, First Class, for developing policies to counter the aggression and maintaining unity among democracies in the face of Russia's war against Ukraine.
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the most-performed living composer, has also been awarded the Cross of Merit, First Class, for raising Estonia's profile in the world.
Crosses of Merit, Second Class, for extraordinary services in raising Estonia's profile internationally or contribution to important international cooperation is awarded to the following recipients:
Aivo Orav – Estonia's Permanent Representative to the EU, for maintaining the resolve of the European Union in the face of Russia's war against Ukraine.
Erki Kodar – Undersecretary for Legal and Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for developing and implementing policies to counter the aggression.
Vivian Loonela – Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Estonia, for her long-standing contribution to Estonian interests at EU level.
Andris Sprivul – Assistant Defense Attache of the Republic of Estonia in Kyiv, for successfully representing Estonia in Kyiv under difficult wartime conditions.
Partners of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Estonia, who contribute to Estonia's foreign policy interests.
Eero Janson – Director of the Estonian Refugee Council, for his long-standing work in organizing Estonian humanitarian aid to refugees.
Elmar Vaher – Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), for contributing to Estonia's foreign policy goals and excellent cooperation.
Ahti Kallikorm – Chair of pharmaceuticals firm Magnum Medical, for his remarkable contribution in supporting Ukraine.
Markus Villig – CEO of Estonian unicorn firm Bolt, for his remarkable contribution in supporting Ukraine.
Contributions to raising Estonia's international profile:
Marcus Kolga – journalist and political scientist in Canada, for his work in highlighting to Western audiences the importance of defending the foundations of European security.
Tiia-Ester Loitme – the long-standing head conductor of the Ellerhein Girls' Choir, for popularizing Estonian choral music and raising Estonia's profile internationally.
Ott Tänak – Estonian WRC driver, and Martin Järveoja, his co-driver, for raising Estonia's profile internationally.
Foreign nationals who have advocated for Estonian interests worldwide:
Pramila Patten – Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, for her long-standing work in standing up for human rights across the world.
Arseni Pushkarenko – Member of the Parliament of Ukraine, for heading the Estonian Friendship Group and advancing Estonia-Ukraine relations.
Timothy Snyder – US writer and historian, for popularising truthful studies on the recent history of Central and Eastern Europe in the world.
Sofi Oksanen – Finnish writer, for raising awareness of Estonian history and boosting the country's profile internationally.
Andrius Kubilius – Lithuanian politician and MEP, for supporting Ukraine on the international arena.
Žygimantas Pavilionis – Lithuanian politician and diplomat, for supporting Ukraine on the international arena.
Mikalay Autukhovich – Belarusian dissident and political prisoner, for his consistent work in standing up for civil liberties and democracy in Belarus.
Vladimir Kara-Murza – Russian human rights activist and dissident, for his steadfast and long-standing work in standing up for human rights and civil liberties in Russia.
Cross of Merit, Third Class, is awarded for a substantial contribution to Estonia's interests internationally or important international cooperation to the following recipients.
Mart Kull – employee of the Estonian embassy in Riga, for long-standing work in the Estonian foreign service.
Ado Lõhmus – employee of the UN Office at Nairobi, for his long-standing contribution to Estonian interests in Africa.
Martin Roger – Director General of the Department for NATO and Transatlantic Relations, for successfully representing Estonia as ambassador to Poland.
Siiri Königsberg – Deputy Permanent Representative at Estonia's Permanent Representation to NATO, for her contribution to reinforcing NATO's collective defense.
Piia Mathisen – Adviser of the President of the European Council Charles Michel, for her contribution to Estonian interests in the European Union.
Kati Roostar – Adviser at Estonia's Permanent Representation to the European Union, for her contribution to Estonian interests in the European Union.
Dimitri Mironov – Cultural advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his long-term contribution to promoting Estonian culture in Russia.
Kalle Kirss – Defense adviser at Estonia's Permanent Representation to NATO, for his contribution to reinforcing NATO's collective defencse.
Lars Werner – Estonia's Honorary Consul in Sweden, for his long-standing contribution to Estonian interests in Sweden.
Rena Tasuja – Director General of the Department for Sanctions and Strategic Export Control, for her contribution to Estonian interests in developing the sanctions policy of the EU.
Käthlin Saluveer – Director General of the International Organizations Department, for her contribution to Estonian interests in international organizations.
Marika Linntam – Director General of the Department for European Affairs, for her contribution to Estonian interests in the European Union, and for advancing and maintaining bilateral relations with European countries.
Anastasiia Mihhailova – former Project Manager at the Estonian Embassy in Kyiv, for her long-standing work on boosting relations between Estonia and Ukraine.
Mait Metelitsa – Adviser at the Division for Strategic Planning and Data Analysis at the Finance Department, for his consistent work on developing the strategic planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and crisis management.
Partners of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advocates of Estonian interests across the world:
Astrid Kannel – Journalist with public broadcaster ERR, for her long-standing work on covering and popularizing foreign affairs in Estonia.
Anton Aleksejev – Correspondent, and Kristjan Svirgsden, cameraman, both of ERR, for their on-the-ground coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine.
Johanna-Maria Lehtme – Director of the NGO Slava Ukraini, for organizing the provision of Estonian humanitarian aid to victims of Russia's war against Ukraine.
Martin Andreller – historian and member of the board of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, for popularizing truthful studies of recent Estonian history.
Foreign nationals recognized as advocates of Estonian interests worldwide:
Brian R. Roraff – former Chargé d'Affaires of the US in Estonia, for his contribution to Estonian-US relations.
Tomasz Szatkowski – Poland's Permanent Representative to NATO, for his remarkable contribution to reinforcing NATO's collective defense.
Carl Martin Skonberg – President of the Estonian Educational Society in New York, for his long-standing contribution to Estonian interests in the US.
Kulandaivelu Gomathy Babu – Estonia's Honorary Consul in the southern states of India, for his long-standing contribution to Estonian interests and business diplomacy in India.
Margit Tera – member of the board of the Estonian House in the Netherlands and the Estonian School in the Netherlands, for her long-standing contribution to Estonian interests and Estonian language education in the Netherlands.
The Crosses of Merit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be presented at a ceremony to take place on 15 November, which is also the 104th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs