Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar is Ambassador-at Large for Cyber Diplomacy at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She started her work in Tallinn in September 2018 as Estonia’s first Cyber Ambassador.
With two decades of experience in international security and cybersecurity, Ambassador Tiirmaa-Klaar has a proven track record of visionary leadership, excellent communication and management skills, an ability to manage multi-cultural teams and build consensus. Before returning to Tallinn, Ambassador Tiirmaa-Klaar was Head of Cyber Policy Coordination at the European External Action Service (EEAS) between January 2012 and August 2018. When creating the cyber coordination structure in the EEAS, her priority was to develop effective cooperation mechanisms between the 28 EU member states as well as to design and steer the development of the EU’s cyber security strategy and of the EU’s international cyber policy. In 2013 and 2017 she was responsible for both developing the cybersecurity strategies of the European Union and for the implementation of the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework.
One of the major priorities of Ambassador Tiirmaa-Klaar’s work at the EEAS was to kick-start extensive EU capacity building programmes in third countries, with a focus on the fight against cybercrime and emerging cyber threats. This has allowed her to gain a global reach and develop a thorough understanding of key cyber challenges. She was also in the lead for developing the Framework of Joint EU Diplomatic Response to Malicious Cyber Activities.
Ambassador Tiirmaa-Klaar joined the Estonian civil service in 1995 and has held various managerial positions in national security fields. Between 2007 and 2010 she worked as the National Cyber Coordinator, developing the world’s first whole-of-government cybersecurity strategy and reorganizing the government structures to adequately address cyber issues. Shortly before joining the EEAS, she worked as a Cyber Security Policy Adviser to NATO where she drafted and negotiated the first comprehensive NATO Cyber Defence Policy in 2011.
As a result of her experience on NATO and EU cyber policy issues, the two organizations now work in a more coordinated and complementary manner.
Ambassador Tiirmaa-Klaar holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Political Science. She was a Fulbright Scholar at George Washington University in 1998-1999. Between 2004 and 2006, she held an academic position as the Head of the International Studies Department at Tallinn University, where she set up the academic department and graduate programs on International Studies.
She is fluent in English, has a good knowledge of Russian, German and French, and basic knowledge of Swedish, Danish and Finnish.