An eventful year 2010 has marked and shaped my first year in Estonia. Political, economic, environmental and other powerful influences have challenged U.S. and Estonian leaders. The final tally is very positive. America, with the help of friends like Estonia, dealt successfully with environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Our economy is recovering — too slowly in terms of our unemployment picture–but market trends are clearly up. On the diplomatic front we ratified a landmark new strategic arms treaty with Russia that will improve security and transparency not just for us and Russia, but for Estonia and NATO as well. In Tallinn and Lisbon we set the stage this year together for the Alliance in the 21st century. Estonia and the U.S. actively exercised our combined military capabilities together, both on NATO territory and further afield.
Estonia is completing its turbocharged 20-year journey from re-independence to full European, transatlantic, and global integration tomorrow at midnight when Prime Minister Ansip holds in his hands that first Estonian euro. Symbolic of so much more than just a new currency for the country, Estonia’s entry into the eurozone is even more significant because the euro has been through some difficult times this past year. Estonia’s cooly responsible economic and financial policies are exactly what the euro needs today and, as usual, its government is ready to step up and carry the burdens as well as the benefits of a common European currency. Estonia will begin 2011 on the best possible footing, economically, politically, militarily, and in every other way — to seize new opportunities and contribute to common efforts with its partners on both sides of the Atlantic.
For 2011, I am looking forward to building on the already excellent U.S.-Estonian with an eye not only to our strategic relationship, but also the people to people bonds. We will work on U.S. companies bringing jobs to Estonia and for Estonian investments enhancing U.S. business activities. We will keep pushing hard on U.S. digital content access for eager E-stonian consumers. And we Americans will be active participants in an exciting Tallinn Cultural Capital of Europe 2011.
Hallie and I and my entire team at U.S. Embassy Tallinn are most grateful for our friendships here in Estonia and wish us all a great 2011 together!