On 5 February 2020, Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill presented her Letter of Credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Antigua and Barbuda to Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia at the Kadriorg Palace during a two-day official visit.
In her presentation to President Kaljulaid, Ambassador Hill stated: “I am honoured and delighted to present my credentials to you, Your Excellency, as the first Ambassador (non-resident) of Antigua and Barbuda to Estonia and also the first female and youngest to do so. I also convey warmest greetings to you from Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. It is also a great privilege to represent the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda as we seek to establish and grow our developmental, trade and investment, and cultural partnerships”. President Kaljulaid welcomed Ambassador Hill to Estonia and expressed how elated she is that formal relations have been established following previous diplomatic engagements. President Kaljulaid also reflected on her short stayover in Antigua while en route to a CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in St. Kitts, recalling the delicious seafood, stunning scenery, and warmth of the people.
During the bilateral engagement, Ambassador Hill noted that one foreign policy objective of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is to establish relations with strategic partners who understand the particular challenges faced by small developing states. Both Ambassador Hill and the President then engaged further on subject-matters such as trade and investment, climate change and resilience, gender and equality, education, derisking and blacklisting, information technology and e-Governance, and culture.
Ambassador Hill arrived in the Estonian capital, Tallinn on 4 February and held discussions with Estonian officials and organisations. Her Excellency first met with Lauri Bambus, Director General of the State Protocol of Estonia who offered welcoming greetings on behalf of the Government of Estonia. Following that meeting, Ambassador Hill then met with the Director-General of Estonian Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Estonia, the Director of the Cyber Security Division of the Information System Authority, the e-Governance Academy, and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education. The discussions centred on possible trade and investment initiatives, tourism and marketing prospects, e-Governance and cybersecurity cooperation, scholarship opportunities at Estonian universities, and cultural exchange programmes. Also, Antiguan and Barbudan students at the Tallinn University of Technology, Shamaise Peters and Kaiszia Celestine had the opportunity to meet with Ambassador Hill. Her Excellency commended them for taking advantage of the educational opportunity to pursue higher education in Estonia and challenged them to push the boundaries of their goals while remaining committed to contributing to the development of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Republic of Estonia is a northern European country with a population of 1.3 million. It is a member of the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and currently sits as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). After gaining independence from Soviet Russia in 1918 and again in 1991, Estonia rapidly transformed into a developed country with a very high human development index being ranked 30 out of 189 measured countries. Leading up to and after joining the EU in 2004, Estonia pioneered the digital revolution and e-governance and is as such today recognised as a global leader in information and communication technologies.
Photographs courtesy of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.