The decision to close Estonia's consulates in New York and San Francisco cannot be reversed, Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) said.
In its November appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee asked the ministry to reconsider its decision to close the U.S. consulates in New York and San Francisco. Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna's written response, dated December 22, is as follows:
"Thank you for your thoughts on the austerity measures implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as for your perspective on the matter, to which I would respond as follows: In preparing the next budget for 2024, the government decided to bring the country out of the debt spiral in order to ensure the continued economy and security of the Estonian state. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also forced to find savings in its budget.
These decisions of the government are not subject to reversal. Moreover, the 2024 state budget act was promulgated by President Karis on December 14.
The decision to close and reorganize the New York and San Francisco consulates was taken on the basis that in this way [of implementing austerity measures] the least damage would be done to foreign policy-making. At the same time, consular services and economic diplomacy in the U.S. will continue to be carried out under the auspices of a strengthened embassy in Washington. The embassy in Washington has been and will remain the center of Estonian-American bilateral relations.
The closure of the U.S. consulates will not affect the security, political, economic, and cultural ties between Estonia and the U.S., as we will strengthen the embassy in Washington, expand the network of honorary consuls representing Estonia and so continue on the course that has made Estonia-American relations so important. Our current U.S. secondments and other flexible missions will also continue to represent Estonia's interests.
I would like to conclude that Estonia's foreign policy, particularly its diplomatic initiatives in the U.S., secures our country and people's continuity. Our diplomatic approach is robust, professional and daring, and we represent Estonia with dignity and as a member state of NATO and the EU, making tough decisions when necessary."
Editor: Sergei Mihhailov, Kristina Kersa