Macedonia in Estonia - a case of true partnership.
In 2007, Macedonia chose Estonia as the place for its first Embassy in the Baltics. Meanwhile I have been confronted with questions such as: why Tallinn and not elsewhere in the region? What may have seemed like an odd choice then, has proven to be a complete success ever since.
First and foremost, the Estonians possess a sense of mission to help countries going through difficult transitional periods and show a genuine interest in the Balkans in general and Macedonia in particular. All this time Estonia has been one of the staunchest supporters of the EU and NATO open-door policies. Securing the continuation of Estonia's support for Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic integration has been the core of my mandate in these four years. More than half a century after the signing of the Rome Treaty Estonia correctly feels that a Europe whole and free is the EU's best and cheapest investment in itself and that strong European and Transatlantic political and defence structures are the best guarantees of peace and prosperity of our peoples.
My second priority has been the further improvement of economic ties. The 2009 world financial crisis was a big setback in this regard. Still, after the initial shock, the Macedonian companies have continued to cooperate with their Estonian counterparts, thereby slowly, but surely increasing the volume of trade. In addition, in these 4 years Estonia has done its best to share with Macedonia its recipe on how to create a knowledge-based economy that is open, stable and rapidly-developing: a balanced state budget, a stable convertible currency (which was replaced by the euro in 2011), liberal trade and investment laws, a liberal taxation system, level playing field for investors, and a huge inflow of FDI.
Finally there has been the need to cut and paste Estonia's success story in the IT sector. Apart from making life simpler, this also helps to streamline and professionalise the public administration and make it more transparent, accessible, and accountable. For example, E-stonia has an e-government, e-society, E-Academy, e-ID/health cards, e-notary, e-cadastre, and an advanced telecommunications infrastructure. Estonian citizens vote in elections, including general ones, using their computers. All schools are connected to the internet, tax declarations are made electronically, cabinet meetings are paperless, government spending can be tracked on the net in real time, everyday banking is conducted online. Macedonia had very little of this 4 years ago. Nowadays, with Estonia's help, we boast many of these e-features and e-services ourselves.
In sum, Macedonia continues to be in Tallinn because of having friendly and developed relations with a country which offers much and is keen on sharing it. At the same time, this has been a rewarding experience for me. Yes, Estonians may not be very fond of small talk and think that silence is fun, but they are so nice, decent and warm. Level-headedness, good judgment and hard work are appreciated in this country. Last but not least, Estonian diplomats and officials are really open, transparent and easy to work with regardless of rank, and I thank them for that. I am truly proud to be serving my country in this successful and most peculiar of all Baltic countries.
Charge d'affaires, Embassy of Macedonia in Tallinn