Marina Kaljurand and Toomas Hendrik Ilves on July 15, 2015
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves officially approved Marina Kaljurand’s nomination on July 15, and she will assume duties as Estonia’s 29th foreign minister.
Ilves expressed delight at appointing his long-time colleague as the new foreign affairs chief – both worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years and it is believed that the President encouraged Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas to nominate career diplomat Kaljurand, rather than someone from the Reform Party ranks.
Kaljurand began her career at the Foreign Ministry in 1991 and has since worked as Estonian ambassador to the United States and Mexico, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Israel and Canada.
Fluent in both English and Russian, she played an important role as an expert and negotiator in the process of Russian troops’ withdrawal from Estonia in 1994 and in negotiations on land and maritime boundary agreements between Estonia and the Russian Federation, as well as in the accession negotiations of Estonia to the European Union and to the OECD.
Kaljurand earned her law degree from the University of Tartu and also has a diploma from the Estonian School of Diplomacy and an M.A. degree in International Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University.
She is a founding member of the Estonian branch of the International Law Association and of the Estonian branch of Women in International Security.
Kaljurand does not belong to any political party and until now worked as the Undersecretary of Political Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
However, she has not ruled out joining the Reform Party. “Give me time,” she told journalists last week.
Her appointment would be seen as a coup for the generally unpopular government – not just because in appointing a male minister instead, the government would only have one female cabinet member left – but Kaljurand, born Rajevskaya, can also speak for Estonian ethnic minorities, as she is of Latvian and Russian descent through her father and mother, respectively.
Previous minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus resigned on July 1, following the Tallinn Circuit Court decision which made her partly liable for debt accumulated by her father’s bankrupt company Autorollo.
Pentus-Rosimannus will now return to Parliament as Reform Party MP, meaning that substitute MP Ivi Eenmaa will have to vacate her Parliament seat.