Meet New Estonian Ambassador Marten Kokk

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/11 5:03:40

Marten Kokk, the Estonian Ambassador to China believes innovation is important in boosting the economy. Photo: Yin Yeping/GT

This year is the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Estonia. It is a special occasion for Marten Kokk, the newly appointed Estonian Ambassador to China, who came to the post in August.

Kokk sat down with the Global Times and shared his opinions on Sino-Estonian relations and what he would like Chinese people to know about his country.

Kokk's first connection with China dates back to his childhood when his mother used to read Chinese fairy tales to him. Kokk also learned about China and Chinese culture at school. Intrigued by the culture, language, and people, Kokk's fascination with China grew when he entered the Estonian Foreign Ministry.

One of Kokk's first tangible connections with China in the ministry was in his then position of administrative undersecretary. At that time, Kokk was responsible for ministry maintenance and the embassy premises.

"One of my biggest tasks was to build the Estonian embassy in Beijing during 2007 and 2008," said Kokk. He was put in charge of conducting an architectural design contest that would select the top design for the embassy in China.

"That was one of my biggest achievements. I didn't know at that time that this (the Estonian embassy in Beijing) would be my future home," he said.

In today's China, small and startup businesses are making a great contribution to the economy. It is same with Estonia where most of the businesses are small in comparison to others in the European or even global context, said Kokk.

"What we have learned in recent decades is to do more sophisticated and smart things and to restructure the economy," he said, adding that they are helping Swedish and Finnish companies do labor intensive work and will do more in the future.

It starts with innovation, he said. Kokk believes that although there is a lot of innovation going on in bigger companies, small companies can be much more agile by reshaping their products and being innovative.

He also thinks that getting the youth of the society fired up about creating their own businesses is a good way to boost economic development.

"There is a strong belief in Estonia that bringing in enthusiasm among the young people and making them believe that they will be able to achieve success in their undertaking is the way to modernize the economy," said Kokk.

One of the examples of Estonian smart technology innovation is the popular web-based communication platform, Skype. "Everyone knows Skype, but not everyone knows that it was created in Estonia," Kokk said, adding that Skype has inspired a lot of young people to innovate.

"[It] created an understanding among the population that you can start with very little capital. You just need to be smart," said Kokk.

In Estonia, the idea of innovation has been widely adopted into people's daily lives. Apart from Skype, other high-tech programs and devices have started to come to the fore, such as smart ID cards and e-resident smart cards which are convenient and increase access to services.

The e-resident program allows non-Estonians access to the country's services, such as company information, banking, payment processing, and tax services with the e-resident smart cards. An e-resident smart card holder can also use the card to sign documents.

Ambassador Kokk said that he plans to promote further cooperation in innovation between China and Estonia during his time in Beijing. "China highly values innovation, and there is a lot to learn from China's development," he said.

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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