Fifteen Estonian organizations in the USA and more than 80 people, including a number of famous cultural figures and entrepreneurs, are appealing to the state to save the historic Estonian Consulate General in New York from closure.
The consulate, which has been in operation since 1922, is slated for closure, along with the San Fransico consulate, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeks to cut costs.
The authors of the appeal say the closure will interrupt long-term cultural and business diplomatic contacts.
"Closure would also, in the current precarious security situation, lead to a significant weakening of ties between Estonia and its most important ally, the United States, and severely damage Estonia's standing in the world," the petitioners note.
"We – Estonians and Estonian citizens in New York – and our Estonian friends and e-residents, appeal to the Estonian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reconsider very seriously the decision to close the New York Consulate and to find a way to continue the very successful and fruitful activities of the Consulate General," the appeal says.
The authors say that, based on the media coverage, the consulate general only provides emergency assistance to Estonians in need which can be replaced by the United Nations mission, the embassy in Washington, or honorary consuls. This decision is only viewed as a logical issue.
"But the role of the Consulate General has been much bigger than just dealing with documents," the appeal states.
Additionally, New York should not be ignored when it comes to developing and developing economic relations and ties with startups, the technology sector, and cultural sectors.
"The active work of the Consulate General has been instrumental in promoting Estonia as a compact and open economic environment in the heart of the financial world – New York." The same applies to Estonian culture, the writers add.
The Estonian Consulate General in New York has been operating continuously since 1922, even while Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union. It made a significant contribution to the restoration and recognition of Estonia's independence, the authors say.
"It would be unfortunate if, in these exceptionally tense international times, there were no longer anyone officially representing Estonia in a center that plays a key role for our most important security partner, the United States."
The ministry announced last week that it will cut 45 jobs and close the consulates next summer.
Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Helen Wright