With a total population of just over 6 million, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania nevertheless hold a key position on the border of Russia and the frontline of NATO and the EU. Challenges include not only potential expansion of conventional war beyond Ukraine, but also threats to shipping, commerce, cyber, and governance of states including significant Russian-speaking populations. At the same time, neighbors Finland and Sweden may join their strengths (and additional security needs) with NATO in the not-distant future.
One year into the third massive conflict in Europe in just over a century, how do the Baltic states, and one of their main defense partners, the U.S., view the overall security of this vital region?
Join us for WorldBoston’s annual State of the State Department special event, an opportunity to consider the U.S. State Department and American diplomacy within the context of U.S. national interests. This year’s program will focus on “The State of the State Department & Baltic Security.”
For this discussion, we are honored to host the ambassadors of the three Baltic states: Audra Plepytė, Ambassador of Lithuania to the United States and Mexico; Kristjan Prikk, Ambassador of Estonia to the United States; and Māris Selga, Ambassador of Latvia to the United States. The Ambassadors will be joined in conversation by Ambassador (Ret.) Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Ambassador Audra Plepytė assumed the duties of Ambassador of Lithuania to the U.S. in May 2021. Prior to her appointment, she was Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the UnitedNations from 2017 to 2021. Ambassador Plepytė served as Director of the European Union Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs from 2014 to 2017. She was Lithuania’s Ambassador to Spain and the World Tourism Organization between 2010 and 2014, and the Director of the Ministry’s Personnel Department from 2009 to 2010.
Her other assignments within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included leading the International Missions and Conflict Prevention Division (2008-2009), serving as Deputy Representative to the Political and Security Committee within Lithuania’s Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels (2004-2008), and heading the Human Rights and Non-Governmental Organizations Division (2003-2004).
Her service also included postings as Deputy Permanent Representative and Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations (1999-2002), Counsellor at Lithuania’s Embassy to the United States (1999), Head of the Foreign Ministry’s Northern European Division (1998-1999) and Advisor to the CBSS Commissioner for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (1997-1998).
Ambassador Plepytė has BA and MA in Philosophy at Vilnius University. She also has a diploma from the Institute of International Relations at Vilnius University, as well as a certificate of Diplomatic studies at Oxford University in UK.
Kristjan Prikk is the Estonian Ambassador to the United States since May 2021. Before assuming his current duties, Prikk served as the Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defense. Prior to becoming the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Prikk worked as Undersecretary for Defense Policy in the Ministry of Defense from July 2017 to August 2018. From 2015 to 2017 Mr. Prikk was the Director of National Security and the Defense Coordination Unit of the Estonian Government Office. He also served as Deputy Director of the same office for two years prior to becoming the Director in 2015. His previous Ministry of Defense assignments include serving as Defense Counsellor at the Estonian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (2010-2013) and as Director of International Cooperation Department in Tallinn (2007-2010). Mr. Prikk holds a Master’s degree from the United States Army War College and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tartu, Estonia. Mr. Prikk is married to Liis, with whom he has two daughters and a son.
Māris Selga is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Latvia to the United States of America since September 16, 2019 and non-resident Acting Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to the United Mexican States.
Prior to his current post, he was Ambassador to People’s Republic of China. Ambassador Selga joined the foreign service in 1994 where has held posts of Counselor at the Policy Planning Group, Head of Americas’ Division, Counselor for security issues, Director of the Second Political (Bilateral) Department, as well Director General of Consular and Diplomatic Facilities Directorate.
Ambassador Selga previously has been posted to the Latvian Embassies in Denmark and the United States. He has been Latvia’s first residing Ambassador in the Arab Republic of Egypt and non-resident Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. He has also been Observer in the League of Arab States and the African Union.
In 2021 Ambassador Selga was awarded the Cross of Recognition, second class (the Grand Officer of the Cross of Recognition), State award of the Republic of Latvia. Ambassador Selga has graduated from the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia.
Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, a foreign policy expert and former diplomat specializing in national security affairs, is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs and Vice Chair of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy & Security. She brings over 30 years of government and international experience across senior levels of business, diplomacy, and the defense sector. She was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters, and during this time, held the Distinguished National Security Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy.
From 2001-2009, she served as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs and the President’s Envoy to Northern Ireland (2007-2009) receiving the Secretary of State’s highest honor the Distinguished Service Medal. She also served on the Defense Policy Board, the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Board, Eximbank’s Advisory Council and as Chair of Eximbank’s Council on China Competition.
Ambassador Dobriansky was Senior Vice President and Director of the CFR Washington Office and the first George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She received a B.S.F.S. summa cum laude, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She has received high-level international recognition from the governments of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary and Colombia.