With an event attended by Undersecretary for European Affairs Matti Maasikas and Hungarian Deputy Minister and Parliamentary State Secretary Levente Magyar, Estonia officially reopened its embassy in Budapest on Friday.
"Every new representation abroad is an example of Estonia's strengthening foreign service," Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) said on the occasion of the opening according to a ministry press release. "The embassy's reopening in Hungary is the first of its kind in the coming years. In 2019, Estonia will open an embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which will be the country's first embassy in the Gulf region, as well as a consulate on the US West Coast."
According to the minister, the importance of the reopening is multifaceted. "On one hand, it is important to maintain bilateral relations with our kindred people, the Hungarians, who remain Estonia's important partner in NATO in the EU," he said. "Cooperation and dialogue between countries is certainly more effective when there is an embassy on the ground."
On the other, the embassy in Hungary will also help expand Estonia's presence in the Balkans.
"In the long run, we should focus on the broader Western Balkan region," said Maasikas, who was representing Estonia at the event. "The embassy will serve four countries in the Western Balkans — Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Republic of Serbia. The region will play a greater role in the near future of the EU, and it is important for Estonia to form more concrete relations with potential future members of the EU."
Estonian Ambassador to Hungary Kristi Karelsohn noted that the embassy will also focus on business diplomacy.
"The Estonian and Hungarian institutes have done a great job by strengthening cultural ties, but there is definitely potential for closer economic cooperation," the ambassador observed. "We are glad to see that the exports of our metalworking industry have increased significantly, and a number of companies like Taxify, Transferwise and Markit have entered the Hungarian market. The embassy has taken economic cooperation as one of its main tasks."
The Estonian Embassy in Budapest reopened at its former address Áldás utca 3 this August, and has offered consular services since early November. From the embassy's closing in 2014 through this summer, the Estonian Ambassador to Hungary resided in Austria.
Editor: Aili Vahtla