Estonian Ambassador to the United States Kristjan Prikk comes to The Fletcher School

By Alex Thomas, MALD 2023 Candidate, The Fletcher School

On April 14 and 15, 2022, Estonian Ambassador to the United States Kristjan Prikk joined the Fletcher and Harvard communities to participate in discussions with students on political risk, international business strategy, and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

At Harvard, Ambassador Prikk and Assistant Professor of International History, Chris Miller, held a discussion as part of the European Conference 2022 on Europe and the War in Ukraine.

“The events that began nearly 50 days ago have shocked my fellow Estonians, and have sent shockwaves throughout Europe,” the ambassador said during his opening remarks.

Ambassador Prikk then turned to the tangible actions that Estonia will take to help mitigate the consequences and impact of the war, a term which he refers to as “smart containment.”

“First, Estonia needs to continue supporting Ukraine, and ensure that this support that we provide is sustainable. Next, we need to support Ukraine politically, but also economically through smarter sanctions such as energy sanctions on Russia—something which will cut off the main funding source of Russia for the war. And third, we need to communicate who is responsible for the war and ensure that justice is upheld.”

Professor Miller then shifted the conversation towards NATO, and asked the ambassador about the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining the international organization and the potential for escalating tensions with Russia.

“For Estonia and the other members of NATO, Finland and Sweden joining would certainly add another layer of security for Estonia and Europe. As for Russia, their threats of aggression and nuclear posturing towards us are unfortunately nothing new.”

The conversation then switched to the audience over Zoom, in which several individuals had the opportunity to ask the ambassador questions. Various questions pertained to the role of language in the conflict, and explored Estonia’s deterrence options for future aggression with Russia and potential future ceasefire deals and security guarantees.

After their conversation at the Harvard European Conference 2022, Ambassador Prikk came to The Fletcher School to speak as part of the Fletcher Political Risk conference, where he was gave the keynote address. In it, Ambassador Prikk spoke about the ways that the war in Ukraine has impacted the economic community in the European Union and the world.

When asked about inviting Ambassador Prikk to speak at the Fletcher Political Risk Conference, lead organizer of the conference Karl Afrikian said, “We knew that Ambassador Prikk would provide a fascinating insight into how Europe’s front line with Russia is navigating the current geopolitical crisis, and how Estonia’s business climate is handling this change. With the ‘New Normal’ as our theme for the conference, we believed that he could provide valuable words on the current state of global affairs relevant to our student, professional, and academic audience. Political risk leaders must maintain connections with policymakers and implementers, and we hope to have provided that in our programming.”

Founded in 2008, the Fletcher Political Risk Group (FPRG) is a graduate student-run organization. FPRG works to facilitate discussion and foster links among students, alumni, and professionals with career and academic interests in political risk as it applies to finance, consulting, business intelligence, and business strategy & operations.


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