The Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV) board has selected Klen Jäärats as its new CEO.
Jäärats, who up to now had been ESTDEV's director of EU Affairs, said he was: "Very happy to take over the leadership of ESTDEV as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia — our partner countries and our partners in destiny — are taking decisive steps to cross the threshold of EU membership."
"I started my journey in the Estonian public sector when Estonia was returning to the European family. I now want to use this successful transition experience and Estonia's expertise to support the development path chosen by our partner countries and build relationships with international donors and cooperation partners," Jäärats continued.
Jonatan Vseviov, ESTDEV board chairman Secretary General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: "I am delighted that we have come to the end of the selection process and have reached an agreement with Klen Jäärats. His long-term work experience with EU issues will help him successfully bring ESTDEV's development cooperation to a new level."
"The focus of ESTDEV's work is now and will continue to be the reconstruction of Ukraine. This must be carried out hand-in-hand with the requirements of the EU, to prepare Ukraine to join the union. I am convinced that Klen Jäärats is the best person to take on this responsibility," Vseviov went on.
Jäärats himself said the Estonian state and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had set high expectations for the growth of Estonia's visibility and influence in global development cooperation, by creating ESTDEV.
"Ukraine's reconstruction and accession to the EU will continue to be a priority for Estonia and ESTDEV for many years to come. We have to be proactive and creative when finding ways to support Ukraine and its people during this challenging time," he added.'
Building open and democratic digital societies on the African continent, which Estonia has been doing successfully for many years within the framework of Team Europe initiatives, remain important too, Jäärats added.
Thank you very much for opportunity and trust @vseviov @MariinRatnik @MerikeSaks to lead the important work of @ESTDEVestonia starting in January 2024. Encouraged & humbled by all your good wishes and already looking forward to New Year. #ESTDEV #StandWithUkraine #TeamEurope https://t.co/eMPXRZu7Ah— Klen Jäärats (@KlenJaarats) November 23, 2023
Jäärats will begin his new role as ESTDEV CEO on January 8, 2024.
Klen Jäärats has worked in the Government Office since 2010, initially as deputy director of EU Affairs and later as departmental director. Previously, he had worked in the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU in Brussels. He worked at the Ministry of the Interior during the negotiations for Estonia's accession to the EU. Estonia joined the EU in 2004.
ESTDEV organizes and coordinates the implementation of Estonian development cooperation initiatives and the resolution of long-term humanitarian crises in Europe's eastern neighborhood and Africa.
ESTDEV's budget for 2023 was €23 million, of which €9.5 million went on reconstruction projects in Ukraine.
ESTDEV functions under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kadri Maasik stepped down as ESTDEV director over a year ago, while current IT and Foreign Trade Minister Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200) held the role earlier on this year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte