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President Kersti Kaljulaid with members of the Los Angeles Estonian community following a her speaking engagement at the USC School of International Relations. Wednesday, October 3, 2016. Photo Credit: Kiino Villand

 

Last week, the Bay Area was honored with the visit of the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid as part of her working visit to the United States, that also included stops in New York and Los Angeles. On September 30, President Kaljulaid addressed local entrepreneurs and technology workers in a session titled "Estonia Tech & Friends" and organized by Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley. 

 

A well-attended reception for local Estonians and friends of Estonia followed, co-hosted by Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Estonian Society at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, California. President Kaljulaid's remarks to the gathered audience touched on several themes, including the connections between the Estonian start-up scene and Silicon Valley, and the value of the mentorship and available capital that have drawn many young and ambitious Estonians to the Bay Area over the last decade or so. 

 

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President Kersti Kaljulaid spends time with Los Angeles Estonians after speaking at the USC School of International Relations - with Estonian Honorary Consul Jaak Treiman in the middle. Wednesday, October 3, 2016. Photo Credit: Kiino Villand

 

Noting that Estonia has the 33rd highest level of salary globally, Kaljulaid emphasized that Estonia is proud of these developments and of the ground that Estonia has recovered since emerging from its years of occupation. 

 

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Meeting with Estonian start-ups and local American entrepreneurs who either support Estonian startups or have their own businesses in Estonia - in San Francisco, California. Photo: President Kaljulaid’s Facebook page

 

The president also recognized the role of the diaspora in the post-occupation years, noting that Estonians abroad were ready to step in and help with the development process, but also that it was important that they stood aside when Estonia was ready to stand on its own feet. She commended those keeping up Estonian traditions and the value of Estonian student organizations worldwide, which serve to connect educated people from different walks of life.

 

President Kaljulaid finally delivered the message that while we celebrate Estonia's centenary year, "Estonia is forever," and it is time for Estonia to take its role among other countries in the international community that have a sense of their own permanence. She recounted the efforts of her team during the UN General Assembly, lobbying for a role for Estonia on the UN Security Council based on its expertise and forward thinking in the area of cybersecurity.

 

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President Kersti Kaljulaid is meeting with the 66th US Secretary of State, the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, who is  now professor of Political Science at Stanford University. Michael A. Keller, the Stanford University Librarian, is in the middle. Photo: President Kaljulaid’s Facebook page.

 

The newly appointed ambassador of Estonia to the United States, Jonaton Vseviov, also 

gave brief remarks about presenting his credentials at the White House. He recounted his previous experience in Washington and the importance of an even approach to the job, no matter which administration is in office.

 

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President Kersti Kaljulaid together with the members of Vironia fraternity. Photo courtesy of President’s Facebook page

 

The program also included a performance from celebrated pianist Hando Nahkur of "Introduction” and “Põhjamaa." Nahkur previously performed in the Bay Area in 2013 at the LEP-ESTO festival and again in 2014.

 

While in the Bay Area, President Kaljulaid also gave a talk at Stanford University titled "e-North: The New Nordic-Baltic Way for Digital Societies," on the topic of how the Estonian legal and technological framework for a digital society drives innovation, and the need for international law in the digital space. She also addressed an audience at Draper University and dined with Sylvia Thompson of the Kistler-Ritso Foundation, which has supported the Baltic Studies programs at Stanford University Libraries and the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom in Tallinn.

 

Linnea Bartling  

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