The US ambassador to Estonia resigns over Trump’s EU comments

The United States ambassador to Estonia, James D Melville, announced on Facebook his resignation from his post over US president Donald Trump’s comments about the European Union and NATO.

“A Foreign Service Officer’s DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign. Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me,” Melville wrote in a private Facebook post which was obtained by the Foreign Policy magazine.

“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go,” he wrote, citing Trump’s reported comments in recent weeks that have unnerved US allies, Foreign Policy added.

Melville’s resignation has made national news in the US and has also been reported internationally, for example by the Canadian CBC and the British BBC. In the US, the news was reported, in addition to Foreign Policy, by Fox News, Newsweek, the CNN, Politico and others.

The Foreign Policy magazine said the resignation “surprised several State Department officials who worked with Melville, describing him as a consummate professional who never let domestic politics impact his job”.

Ahead of a NATO summit

The State Department confirmed Melville’s departure in a short statement to Fox News. “Earlier today, the United States’ ambassador to Estonia, Jim Melville, announced his intent to retire from the Foreign Service effective July 29 after 33 years of public service,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox.

Melville’s resignation comes ahead of a NATO summit, where the United States’ closest historic allies fear that president Trump will lambast them and further isolate Washington from its allies after heated disputes over trade, defense spending issues, and the US exit from the Iran nuclear deal, Foreign Policy said. “Allies fear that the optics of Trump trashing allies in Brussels, followed by a meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, will undercut an already anemic trans-Atlantic partnership,” the magazine added.

Melville is a senior US career diplomat who has served as the American ambassador in Estonia since 2015.

In September 2017, Trump nominated rear admiral Edward Masso to be the next ambassador to Estonia. However, in May 2018, the White House somewhat mysteriously sent a notice of withdrawal to the Senate. No reason for the withdrawal was given.


Cover: James D Melville. Photo: US embassy in Estonia.

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