Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov introducing e-Residency event.
The Embassy of Estonia recently hosted two noteworthy events and took part in a quarterly meeting of all three Baltic embassies with the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) and its parent organizations. EANC was represented at all three events by Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey.
On January 30th, the embassy hosted an informational session on Estonia’s e-Residency program. Over 50,000 people in 160 countries have become e-residents since Estonia became the first nation to offer electronic residency in 2014. The program consists of a digital identity issued by the Estonian government that allows e-residents to use a number of eservices from the state and grants access to a transparent EU business environment that can be managed completely online. More than 6,000 businesses have been started by entrepreneurs around the world who otherwise would not be able to establish a presence in the EU market. While the program primarily supports business owners at this point, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid is leading an effort to launch e-Residency 2.0, which will expand to offer more benefits for all members of the community. Several other nations are now looking at developing similar programs using Estonia’s model. More information on e-residency, and how to apply is available at e-resident.gov.ee.
The following evening, the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) held its first CEPA Salon forum of 2019 at the Estonian embassy on the topic of European Security on the Eve of NATO’s 70th Anniversary. The discussion was hosted by Estonian Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov and featured U.S. Army Lieutenant General (LTG) Ben Hodges, who retired from active duty in 2017 after serving as Commander, U.S. Army Europe, and before that, as commander of NATO land forces. Ambassador Vseviov shared his insights on Estonia’s geostrategic perspective from decades on the front lines of Kremlin aggression, while LTG Hodges focused on the role of the U.S. in maintaining the stability of the Alliance. Karin was able to ask LTG Hodges afterwards for his opinion on the prospects for European Defense Initiative (EDI) funding in the 2020 Department of Defense budget and the General expressed confidence that EDI would receive continued support. Please see cepa.org/events for more information.
The quarterly JBANC – Baltic Embassies meeting took place on January 25th at the Embassy of Latvia with several main topics of discussion. Foreign ministers from all three nations will visit Washington twice in the coming months for security-related meetings and to observe NATO’s 70th anniversary in early April. On advocacy, all present agreed that priority topics for upcoming meetings on the Hill should be House Baltic Caucus and Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus membership, implementation of sanctions on Russia, and U.S. support for NATO. Finally, the Baltic nations have been invited to participate in this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, along with Brazil and Benin. This year’s theme is “The Social Power of Song.” The embassies are in the process of discussing program details with their governments and the event’s staff.
EANC looks forward to continuing and building on its close relationship with the Estonian embassy and will keep our followers informed on topics of interest.
Director Estonian American National Council