TALLINN - The Old Town's outdoor terraces are a delight for tourists and locals alike. But according to several embassies, the wooden decks that adorn the streets each summer have become a security threat. The embassies of Poland, Italy and Austria have filed complaints to the Foreign Ministry about outdoor dining areas close to their operations.
The diplomats said the terraces disturbed the daily functioning of the embassies and posed a security risk. Having large crowds of diners near an embassy could violate the Vienna Convention, under which countries are required to protect a mission's peace and dignity, the Foreign Ministry told Tallinn's City Center Authority in a letter.
The same letter requested the city to take the embassies concerns into account when issuing outdoor dining permits.
In particular, the summer cafes of the popular Olde Hansa restaurant was cited as a disturbance to the Polish Embassy and the residences of the Italian and Austrian ambassadors, which are all located across the street.
The complaints could affect an application by a new restaurant, Clazz, which is seeking to open a terrace outside the Polish embassy.
Kaia Sarnet, deputy head of the City Center Authority, said Olde Hansa's outdoor restaurant would not be closed this summer, but could be reconsidered next year.
"The city does not yet have a contract with Clazz to open an outdoor cafe. It may really be dubious whether it's a good idea to open an outdoor cafe under the embassy windows," Sarnet said.
Last year the French embassy complained about a terrace at the Cathedral Restaurant on Toompea, asking for its closure because of its proximity to the French ambassador's residence.
The City Center Authority refused to satisfy the application because it did not consider the terrace to be a source of high danger.