Mall Hellam, who has served as Hungarian Honorary Consul in Estonia since 1994, has resigned in light of growing concerns over undemocratic moves by the Hungarian government, most recently the closure of Central European University (CEU).
"It is with great concern that over recent years that I have followed steps the Hungarian government has made against free media, an independent justice system, civil society and now against academic freedom too," Hellam said according to an Open Estonia Foundation press release. "My final decision was made following a course of events that took place last week where the Hungarian government displayed its brutality and decisiveness in shutting down Central European University (CEU) int he most undemocratic way.
"My work as an honorary consul has truly come from the heart and stemmed from my love for Hungarian people, their language and culture," she explained. "I will continue my mission on the board of the Estonian-Hungarian Society and hope for a close relationship between the two countries."
Hellam graduated from the Faculty of Hungarian Philology and Finno-Ugric Comparative Linguistics at Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University in 1983. In 1988, she was one of the re-establishing members of the Estonian-Hungarian Society, the post of chairwoman of which she held from 1994-2016, as well as the Finno-Ugrian movement. She currently serves as executive director of the Open Estonia Foundation.
Hellam was bestowed Estonia's Order of the White Star, 4th Class in 2000 and the Knight's Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit in 2002. In 2010, she was chosen as the Estonian European of the Year.
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjárto and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been given notice of her resignation.
Editor: Aili Vahtla