Meeting with Embassy Tallinn Personnel and Their Families

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Tallinn, Estonia
April 23, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is wonderful to be back in Tallinn. This is my third trip and it is one of my favorite cities in Europe. And I’m delighted to be here with both Ambassador and Mrs. Polt. Mike and Hallie are well-known to the State Department family and I’m very grateful to both of them for their service. And with Ambassador Polt, you have an experienced diplomat who is very committed to you and to this mission. It may be a small post, but it’s absolutely essential to our foreign policy priorities and helping to strengthen NATO and expand our partnership in Afghanistan, where Estonia is punching way above its weight with its commitment there and in dealing with some of the challenges of the 21st century, like cyber security.

And I thank each and every one of you for what you are doing to make this relationship, which is such a positive one, even more so. It is one of the great success stories of the last 20 years, and the engagement between the United States and Estonia is at the core of that. The Visa Waiver Program is an important vote of confidence and it is exciting for me, having met with the president, the prime minister, and the foreign minister, to review the accomplishments, even since the last time I was here back in 2004, when Estonia had just joined NATO. And now, over the last two days, Estonia has hosted NATO.

And I am thrilled because it’s such a success story. This was the largest international event that Estonia has ever hosted, and I know that many of you had to do extra work because of that, because we descended upon you, all of our NATO mission and my delegation as well.

I know that it sometimes can be difficult with the long, cold, dark winters that are part of waiting for spring, which, when it comes, is glorious here. I know you’re also hoping for a new embassy compound, and Mike and I talked about that. I was very pleased that we were able to raise the salaries of our locally employed staff last year by 18 percent. I can’t promise to do it again soon, but I’m going to make a commitment I’ll keep working for the resources that we need. Because whether you’re Foreign Service or Civil Service or locally employed, as well as from other agencies of our government like the Department of Defense or the Department of Justice, you’re all representatives of the United States, and you’re all part of the team that is here in Estonia.

And I especially want to welcome all the family members – husbands, wives, and especially children. And I’m committed to exploring more ways to offer employment to our eligible family members as well.

Now, before I go, I’d like to recognize two of your own for their outstanding service. First off, David Haydter for his impressive technical support during the transition to the smart messaging system. (Applause.) As head of information resource management, he and his team installed our new system on both the classified and unclassified systems by themselves – the only one of our embassies to do so. So congratulations, David, for a job well done and a job that is truly an example to the rest of the State Department. (Applause.)

And secondly, Karen Decker, the DCM here in Tallinn who did a great job expanding – (applause) – the U.S.-Estonia partnership last year as the chargé. And I know that she managed the Embassy staff with an eye to individual development, which I particularly appreciate, and then was instrumental in Ambassador Polt’s transition. I’ve been told people here would walk through fire if Karen asked them to. I’m not asking you to, Karen. (Laughter.) But I am here to thank you. Thank you for your leadership, your character, and your example. And I want to say that for their exceptional work, both Karen and David are receiving the State Department’s Superior Honor Award. (Applause.)

So thank you so much for all of your hard work and your commitment. I hope that I’ll have a chance to come back not too soon so you have a chance to rest up. But I think you earned a wheels-up party as soon as I’m finally no longer in your airspace – (laughter) – and no longer your responsibility. But thank you for what you do every single day and thanks for the extra efforts when people like me come to town. And let me now come down and say hello to everybody.

# # #

PRN: 2010/T28-4