It is rather extraordinary for an ambassador to resign because he cannot represent a government the convictions of which clash with his own. The Estonian ambassador to Finland Harri Tiido recently resigned. Before that, the American ambassador to Estonia left for the same reason.
The American ambassador who resigned said that he cannot represent an administration that rails against NATO while serving in a friendly NATO country. It is a matter of honor.
Back when I served as ambassador, my colleagues and I discussed the line that would have to be crossed for a diplomat to be unable to continue serving their country. State officials must follow the government’s directives after it has been appointed by a democratically elected parliament. As ambassador, I serve my country, not a specific head of state or minister.
Harri Tiido, by leaving the post of ambassador to Finland, is really building a bridge between Estonia and Finland by letting the Finns know that not everyone here shares the government’s views.
How would you describe Estonia’s condition today?
Estonia looks beautiful, even in winter. But I’m afraid we have come to a standstill.
When Ireland became independent roughly 100 years ago, it was full of young and energetic men. They had a dream of building their own country after 800 years under British rule. When the Republic of Ireland turned 30, the young men who had led it got old and the country entered a period of stagnation. What followed was cheap nationalism that led nowhere. There were no new ideas or impulses for moving forward.
Ireland didn’t find new momentum until 1973 when it joined the European Union. The country still looked rather bleak 13 years after that step, compared to what it is now.
What makes Estonia strong?
Innovative spirit first and foremost. Just three or four years ago, Estonia was the only post-communist state with a truly positive global reputation. If there was one so-called Eastern European country that was known everywhere from Japan to Uruguay and known for good things, it was Estonia.
Having a good reputation brings investments, opens doors for Estonians all over the world. From there, it is up to each and every one of us to decide whether to use that reputation to make it, attract necessary capital to grow and become international, go global, as our unicorns have.
Therefore, reputation is the foundation and something that a lot of other, especially post-communist states still grapple with 30 years on. But what makes us strong is Estonians’ enterprising spirit and hard work.