On April 13th KESKUS addressed Estonians around the world in the first-ever Estonian diaspora virtual forum held by Estonia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The virtual event focused on raising Estonia’s global profile and was moderated by Estonian broadcaster Neeme Raud in Tallinn. The event was led by Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets as well as key diplomats and Estonians from across the globe including Ellen Valter from KESKUS. You can watch a recording of the event here.
KESKUS Project Lead Ellen Valter presented plans for the innovative and future-oriented International Estonian Centre in downtown Toronto. Valter, who noted the long history and many team members on the project, spoke about how the centre will take an Estonia-first philosophy and help boost Estonia’s global profile: “We are focused on keeping our culture visible on the world stage. KESKUS will support our local and global community and serve to recognize and contribute to Estonian culture in North America and around the world.”
Valter shared a virtual tour of the future centre which is designed for Estonians of different generations to meet and celebrate important events. She explained how in future, people from all over the world will be able to virtually connect to the centre and participate in classes, cultural events and more. She shared plans for the business accelerator, designed to support Estonian startups and promote economic trade and development. She explained that everything from the bistro and library to the community room and rooftop garden space will serve to promote Estonian innovation and share Estonian culture with the world.
Valter gave updates on the KESKUS capital campaign efforts with the launch of the public campaign slated for June 1 – June 4, 2021, and encouraged the global community to show support: “Together, we are an even stronger Estonia!”
Eva-Maria Liimets, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia discussed the role of Foreign Affairs programs in a global context and heralded the start a new era of enhanced economic, cultural and diplomatic connections. “There are nearly 200 000 people with Estonian roots across the world and they all should feel they matter to their native land and that they have a chance to contribute to Estonia’s development.” Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said.
Erki Kodar, Undersecretary for Legal and Consular Affairs spoke about the plans and activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs designed to promote global “Estonianness.” He presented key insights from members of the Estonian diaspora gleaned through a survey conducted in October 2020.
Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Director General of the Cyber Diplomacy Department, Estonian Ambassador at Large for Cyber Diplomacy spoke about how Estonia has become recognized as a global leader in cyber security and how this image has inspired countries the world over to approach the nation and ask how they’ve been able to set up their cybersecurity so well.
Jüri Seilenthal, Director General of the External Economic and Development Cooperation Department talked about economic development and how Estonians can contribute to economic diplomacy from whereever they are. He spoke about how bringing Estonian products and services abroad will enhance business connections around the world, as well as some consular and digital solutions to support this.
Tiina Nirk, Director General of the Consular Department gave an update on a range of consular services available to Estonians through embassies and consulates, with a view to offering better and faster services to Estonian nationals.
Hille Hanso, a political scientist and journalist living in Turkey spoke about how every Estonian can contribute to Estonia's reputation abroad.
The forum also included video greetings from Estonians in Canada, Japan, Abkhazia, Switzerland and Finland. The virtual forum was held in Estonian, with interpretation into English. You can view a recording of the two-hour event here.
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