Ilves: I do not consider consulate closures to be a major tragedy

Toomas Hendrik.
Toomas Hendrik. Source: Rene Suurkaev / ERR

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Estonian ambassador to the U.S., foreign minister and president, does not consider the decision to close consulates in New York and San Francisco a major tragedy for Estonia.

Ilves told ERR that there aren't too many Estonians in New York, and that while a consulate general sounds grand, what it offers people is not that important in this day and age.

"The other thing I started pushing more than 22 years ago is that our consulates should engage in economic efforts, which has not been a big part of the work of the New York consulate, even though the city is a financial hub," he added.

He also pointed out that while Estonia exports roughly the same amount to Finland and Latvia, the country has four economic advisers in the former and just one in the latter. "I believe this is one aspect for going over our foreign missions in general," the former president said.

"I don't see why we need Cairo as nothing will be coming from there. If it is said it works to balance Jerusalem, I also don't know how much has been achieved in Jerusalem over the last 20 years. We have opened and closed embassies in Brazil. Therefore, it seems that we should take a broader look at our needs and where we can achieve something," he suggested.

Ilves said that Estonia should concentrate on diplomacy with EU and NATO members, and that if money is to be spent on the U.S. it should go toward staffing the embassy in Washington.

Former Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu saw no problem with closing the consulate in New York but took issue with the call to also ax the one in San Francisco. "Consular matters are more complicated when it comes to San Francisco. It is bound to cause a number of problems for people and companies on the west coast," Reinsalu said.

"I hope the ministry will be organizing consular missions from Washington to San Francisco," Reinsalu said.

"I do not unequivocally condemn such optimization to give other foreign representations sustainability in the conditions of rising prices," the politician said.

Reinsalu added that it is important to make sure diplomats do not have to contend with more uncertainty.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Aleksander Krjukov

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: