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					Overview of worldwide
bilateral relations

North America, Western and South Europe
The year 2006 culminated in two very high-level visits to Estonia, which crowned the
long-term good and fruitful relations that Estonia has had with the United Kingdom
and the United States. These visits will very definitely leave an impressive imprint in
the history of Estonia’s foreign relations.

On 19–20 October 2006, the head of state of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth
II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, paid a state visit to Estonia. This was the
first time that a British monarch visited the Republic of Estonia. The visit was in rec-
ognition of the good cooperative relationship that exists between the two countries,
and of Estonia as a reliable partner in the European Union and the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation.

In the course of their visit, the royal couple met with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves;
at the Maritime Museum they commemorated the British sailors who had fallen in the
Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920) with a moment of silence at their memo-
rial plaque; met with the Estonian Afghanistan military contingent; and, aboard the
warship HMS Liverpool, unveiled the official emblem of the first Sandown class mine-
sweeper that Estonia is buying from the UK. This warship, which will arrive in Estonia
during the year 2007, will be named the Admiral Cowan in honour of Rear Admiral
Walter Cowan, who had commanded the British naval squadron in the Estonian War
of Independence. The highlight of the visit proved to be the concert in the Town Hall
Square, at which the royal couple was introduced to Estonia’s choral singing tradition
by a 700 member mixed chorus formed especially for this event. In honour of the royal
couple, President and Mrs Ilves gave a festive dinner in the historical Blackheads’
House, in the centre of Tallinn’s picturesque Old Town. At the reception hosted by the
UK’s ambassador, Nigel Haywood, in KUMU, Estonia’s new national gallery, the in-
ternationally acclaimed Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performed, conducted
by Paul Hillier. The foreign minister of the UK, Margaret Beckett, who accompanied
the royal couple on their visit, had a separate working lunch with Estonia’s foreign
minister, Urmas Paet.

The highlight of the relations with the United States was, no doubt, the visit that
President George W. Bush paid in November to Estonia, accompanied by Secretary of


State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and several other
senior White House officials. President Bush met with President Ilves and Prime Min-
ister Andrus Ansip. In conjunction with the NATO Summit that began the next day
in Riga, the meeting in Tallinn was also devoted to the promoting of democracy, as
well as to Estonia’s role in this endeavour and the example we are able to set for the
countries undergoing a reform process in the EU’s neighbourhood. President Bush also
met with outstanding Estonians who, with advice or other resources, have gone to aid
countries that are reconstructing themselves. The US president praised Estonia’s suc-
cessful economic reforms, as well as thanked Estonia for the help that we have given
to the strengthening of freedom and democracy in the world, and especially for our
participation in the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Estonia, in turn, thanked the US
for its non-recognition of the Soviet occupation of Estonia, and for the support that we
received during our accession to NATO. Estonia’s and America’s common values and
unwavering friendship were again confirmed and reinforced by the spirit of unity that
the visit generated.

28 August was the 15th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations
between Germany and the Baltic states, and the 85th anniversary of the original
establishing of diplomatic relations. To mark the occasion, a symposium and an ap-
propriate exhibit were organised at the German foreign ministry. The symposium’s
keynote speaker was Germany’s former foreign minister, Hans Dietrich Genscher.
Estonia was represented by the Foreign Ministry’s secretary general, Matti Maasikas,
and by a prominent member of the Riigikogu (Estonian parliament), Mart Laar, who
is also a former prime minister.

The year 2006 also brought with it many essential visits in the sphere of Estonian-
German relations, which confirms the continued existence of a very good mutual
relationship. On 3 February, in Berlin, within the framework of the annual 3+1 con-
sultations, the foreign ministers of the Baltic states and Germany met. In the course
of the ninth meeting of this kind, the Baltic and German colleagues concentrated
upon the future of the European Union; the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP);
the situation in the Western Balkans; and upon something that is on everyone’s mind
these days – energy policy. Foreign Minister Paet also had a bilateral meeting with his
German colleague.

On 3–5 April, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip paid a visit to Germany, in the course of
which, many interesting meetings took place. The most noteworthy was with Chan-
cellor Angela Merkel, where the main topics for discussion were the future of the
European Union, as well as the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
In Berlin, the prime minister also met with the German ministers of finance and
economic affairs. Prime Minister Ansip also decorated the former chancellor, Helmut

                                               OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

Kohl, with the 1st Class Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, which had been awarded
to Chancellor Kohl by the Estonian president, for having supported Estonia’s aspira-
tions towards independence.

On 3–4 April, Prime Minister Ansip also had a chance to visit the German state of
Saxony, where he met the local prime minister, Georg Milbradt. Together they visited
the historical Frauenkirche church in Dresden.

A continued great interest in Estonia is providing excellent opportunities for expand-
ing cultural, press, and educational contacts in Germany. In the course of 2006, the
Estonian Embassy and its cultural attaché were able to organise a great many cultural
events, like various exhibitions and literary evenings. Several large-scale concerts also
took place, which were conducted by internationally acclaimed Estonian conductors
Anu Tali, Eri Klas, and Paavo Järvi. In October, Mr. Järvi assumed the position of head
conductor the prestigious symphony orchestra Hessische Rundfunk. Noteworthy is
the fact that an Estonian, Mihkel Kütson, won the new German Conductor Prize,
which was awarded for the first time in 2006. An important event for promoting Es-
tonia took place in Hamburg on 5–7 May, when the city’s harbour celebrated its 817th
anniversary (817 Hafengeburtstag Hamburg), where Estonia was the guest of honour
of the celebrations.

On 15 November, the new Estonian embassy building was opened in the Nether-
lands. At the festive opening ceremony in The Hague, Foreign Minister Paet stressed
that an embassy does not just embody political and diplomatic relations, but its func-
tion is to also form a bridge between the people of the two countries. Estonia’s new,
dignified Embassy will, no doubt, perform this function very well. A confirmation of
the very good bilateral relations between Estonia and the Netherlands was also the
working meeting that was held between the foreign ministers of the two states before
the opening of the embassy building. The matters discussed at the meeting between
Bernard Bot and Urmas Paet were the bilateral relations of the two countries, as well
as questions dealing with the EU and NATO.

In September, Portugal’s deputy foreign minister, Manuel Lobo Antunes, with Prime
Minister Ansip also being present, opened the Portuguese Embassy in Tallinn. Thanks
to the energetic activity of the Portuguese Embassy, several events took place in Esto-
nia, which helped to popularise Portuguese culture. A very positive step in the devel-
opment of bilateral relations was the concluding of cooperation agreements between
Portugal’s Camões Institute and the Estonian universities in Tartu and Tallinn. This
will ensure the teaching of Portuguese in these Estonian institutions of higher learn-
ing, as well as the availability of appropriate textbooks and other learning materials.
In December 2006, Prime Minister Ansip paid a working visit to Portugal.


In 2006, several cultural events, organised by the Spanish Embassy, took place in
Tallinn. And in May, Spain’s minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, Miguel Angel
Moratinos, visited Tallinn.

On 3 April the Secretary General of the Estonian foreign ministry Matti Maasikas opened
the third Estonian Honorary Consulate in Greece, in the harbour city of Patra. The new
honorary consul, Mrs. Irene Panagopoulus, is one of the co-owners of the shipping com-
pany Superfast Ferry. Within the framework of the secretary general’s visit to Greece, the
two states concluded on 4 April an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and
the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital.

Estonia’s good relations with Cyprus culminated, in the second half of the year,
in high-level visits. On 5 October, the foreign minister of Cyprus, Geoorge Lillikas,
who had assumed office in June, paid a working visit to Estonia. A few weeks later,
on 23–25 October, Prime Minister Ansip paid an official visit to Cyprus. Within the
framework of the visit, a photo exhibit depicting Estonian scenery was organised.

Estonia’s relations with Turkey have been very good and active, and stretch as far back
as 1935, when Turkey’s ambassador, Nuri Batu, presented his credentials. This was at
a time when there were only nine residing ambassadors in Tallinn, and Turkey, itself,
had only 20 embassies in the various countries of the world. In May of 2006, thanks to
the endeavours of the Turkish Embassy, Estonians had the chance to enjoy the Turkish
Cultural Days in Tallinn.

Estonia’s support for Turkey in the course of the European Union accession nego-
tiations has been steady, since we want to see Turkey, once it has fulfilled all of the
accession criteria, as an EU member. On 6 December, Turkey’s minister of state and
chief EU negotiator, Ali Babacan, visited Estonia to give an overview of the progress
of his country’s talks with the EU. On 5–8 April, Foreign Minister Paet paid an of-
ficial visit to Turkey, and on 12–14 July, the minister participated in the opening of
the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. And, it must, of course, be noted that for four
months, from March to July of 2006, Turkey, on a rotation basis, carried out NATO air
policing in the airspace of the three Baltic states.

On 10 August, a memorandum was signed in Tallinn between Estonia, France, Lux-
embourg, Belgium, and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)
concerning a long-term cooperative programme for teaching French to Estonian civ-
il servants dealing with European matters. To implement this, an appropriate pro-
gramme for teaching French, which would be focused upon European issues, and
would be an extension of already functioning French teaching programmes that have
heretofore encompassed 2500 civil servants, will be introduced. The new programme

                                              OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

provides for the teaching of French to Estonian civil servants in the course of three
years. The target group would be about 250 civil servants per half-year term. In co-
operation with OIF, it will be possible to send up to five high-level officials to either
France or Belgium for supplementary language training.

Northern and Central Europe
In the Nordic-Baltic region the year 2006 was rich in significant foreign policy events.
This was primarily due to two things – the Finnish presidency of the EU in the second
half of the year and the NATO summit in Riga in November. Both of them offered Es-
tonia new opportunities to acquire new experiences in the sphere of foreign policy.

Ever since the Hanseatic times, a characteristic of the Nordic-Baltic region has been a
disposition towards dynamic economic development and integration. In today’s glo-
balising world the abolition of economic barriers, but also the free movement of capi-
tal, services and labour are becoming ever more important for maintaining competi-
tiveness. Having consistently supported these fundamental values of the EU, Estonia
welcomed in May 2006 the decision of Finland, of some other so-called old member
states of the EU and Iceland to open their labour markets for Estonian citizens.

Regional integration continues also through cooperation in the field of energy. At the
end of the year the construction of an underwater power cable between Estonia and
Finland, called ESTLINK, in which also Latvia and Lithuania are partners, was com-
pleted. Thus the three Baltic countries became connected via the Nordic countries
to the joint European energy system. At the same time the project of a new nuclear
power station is under way in Lithuania, in which also Latvia and Estonia partici-
pate, and which is expected to ensure the energy supply of the region in the coming

In the context of the EU, regional cooperation is conducted also in the NB6 format,
which has proved its efficacy both at the level of civil servants and politicians. Within
the NB6 format standpoints are coordinated and both domestic and foreign policy
issues discussed. In this context, for example, Estonia and Sweden have identical
views on many issues, including enlargement of neighbourhood policy. This inspired
the foreign ministers of the two countries to write jointly an article on enlargement,
which was published both in Estonian and German press before the enlargement
discussions of the EU in December.

From the point of view of the defence capabilities of the region, Estonia’s participa-
tion in the Nordic Battlegroup is of great importance. The lead nation of the Nordic
Battlegroup, which was established in the framework of the CFSP, is Sweden, and its
other members are Finland and Norway. The Battlegroup is expected to be on standby


during the first half of 2008. Sweden has already requested Estonia to participate
also in the next battlegroup which is supposed to be ready by the beginning of 2011.
Estonia has given a provisional positive response to the Swedish request. Estonia’s
membership in NATO has increased our political credibility – Estonian Embassy in
Helsinki has been NATO’s contact embassy in Finland since September 2004. In 2007
the Estonian Embassy in Sweden has the same role to play in Sweden.

Trilateral development cooperation is one of the themes often tabled at regional meet-
ings of different levels. The Nordic countries who have rich experience of acting as
donor states are in the first place interested in contributing to the passing on of Esto-
nia’s reform experience to those states who are today in the same situation as Estonia
was 15 years ago. In 2006 a number of trilateral development cooperation projects for
priority target countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova) were continued, but there were
also new partners. In the first half of the year the first Estonian-Icelandic joint devel-
opment cooperation project was launched – a programme for training Georgian police
at the Estonian Academy of Public Safety. At various stages of the project also Finland
and the UN have made their contributions. As one of the goals of the Estonian foreign
policy is to continue and increase our development aid, it seems only natural that this
kind of trilateral cooperation will gather new impetus in the coming years.

In 2006 the close cooperation between the foreign policy institutions of the Nordic and
Baltic countries continued, including bilateral consultations with the experts of the
foreign ministries of all the countries of the Nordic-Baltic region concerning different
foreign policy issues. The growing integration of the NB8 group encompasses every
year more and more fields of activities. In 2006 the secretaries-general of the foreign
ministries of the NB8 countries agreed to coordinate the future cooperation regarding
joint use of each others’ foreign representations. That kind of cooperation is of interest
not only to the Baltic, but also to the Nordic countries. A good example of this kind
of cooperation is the fact that an Estonian consular diplomat has been posted at the
Embassy of Finland in New Delhi. The next step will be the posting of an Estonian
diplomat at the Swedish Embassy in Egypt (Cairo) with a view to starting preparations
for setting up the first Estonian Embassy in the Middle East. Estonia on its part has
offered working facilities for some Nordic diplomat(s) in its Embassy in Georgia.

Relations with Finland received in 2006 an extra dimension owing to the Finnish
Presidency of the EU in the second half of the year. During the Finnish Presidency
a number of Estonian civil servants, including two diplomats, had the opportunity
for practice in Finnish state institutions. In connection with the Finnish Presidency
several specific events were organised in Estonia. Of these, a joint conference about
the Northern Dimension and an Estonian-Finnish joint seminar on issues of border
security were the most outstanding ones.

                                              OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

In Estonian-Finnish relations, the construction of the aforementioned underwater
cable, establishing a professorship of the Finnish language and culture at Tartu uni-
versity, negotiations about further cooperation concerning the reduction of the emis-
sion of greenhouse gases were the highlights of the year. Cooperation was started
also between the population registers of the two countries and in the preparatory
work for setting up Estonian Development Fund. In cooperation with Finnish experts
a plan for the development of ice-breaking activities in Estonian waters in the period
of 2006–2013 was worked out. In the sphere of culture the signing of a cooperation
memorandum by the representatives of Tallinn and Turku was a notable event – the
two cities will be the European Capitals of Culture of the year 2011.

Bilateral institutional cooperation was also last year largely based on the report “Es-
tonia and Finland in the European Union” which was drawn up in 2003. At a cabinet
meeting of the Estonian government in November it was noted that most of the rec-
ommendations put forward in the report have already been implemented. Therefore
there are plans in 2007 to work out a follow-up report, which would envisage a
strategy for further economic integration between Estonia and Finland and the devel-
opment of cooperation model based on research, development and innovation. This
would also constitute Estonia’s and Finland’s joint contribution to the strengthening
of the competitiveness of the whole Baltic Sea region. On 28 August 2006, a symposi-
um which focused on a comparison of the Estonian and the Finnish economic models
and the outlooks of knowledge-based economy arranged by the Finnish think-tank
EVA was held in Tallinn. In the sum-up of the symposium it was noted, that there are
quite a few areas in which Estonia and Finland have something to learn from each
other. Among other things Finnish business leaders expressed their acknowledge-
ment of the transparency of the Estonian tax system. A month later, on 26 September,
the Estonian Chamber of Commerce, the Embassy of Finland and Enterprise Estonia
held a seminar on promotion of trade and economic relations between Estonia and
Finland. Last year saw also a growing interest of Estonian businessmen in making
investments in Finland.

In relations with Sweden last year saw a continued growth of the network of honor-
ary consulates. In August Foreign Minister Urmas Paet opened in Gothenburg the
fifth Estonian honorary consulate in Sweden. The Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt
opened in November a Swedish honorary consulate in our second largest city Tartu.

In 2007 Estonia is going to be more visible in the Swedish media than usual, because
Estonia will be in focus at the popular international Göteborg Book Fair which is vis-
ited by 100 000 people every autumn. Estonia will be the featured country at the Book
Fair 2007, and therefore a whole series of events connected with Estonian culture
in a broader sense has been launched in order to present also Estonian music, art,


theatre and film to the Swedish public. At the same time, it should be noted that the
historic Swedish community in Estonia, which was strong and active before WW II
but became almost extinct as a result of the tragic developments during and after the
war, is gathering strength. In October 2006, a museum of Swedish cultural heritage
was opened at the Swedish St. Michael’s Church in Tallinn. The bulk of the objects
exhibited in the museum comprises church property originating from different pre-
war Swedish congregations of Estonia which was returned to Estonia by the Swedish
Museum of History.

Bilateral relations with both Denmark and Norway continued in the traditional busi-
nesslike manner and without problems. A major sphere of common interest with
Denmark at international level is the context of peacekeeping missions. Cooperation
continued in one of the worst crisis areas of the world – Afghanistan – where both
Estonia and Denmark are engaged in the southern part of the country.

Norway which in 2006 presided at the Nordic Council of Ministers acted also as the
unofficial president of the NB8 (Nordic and Baltic countries). This left also its mark
on Estonia’s relations with Norway last year, which were characterised by a large
number of visits and meetings. Of bilateral themes cooperation within the framework
of the European Economic Area (EEA) and preparatory work for the utilization of
subsidies of the EEA and Norwegian financial mechanisms should be mentioned.
Those Estonian projects which were approved in the course of the preparatory stage
will receive their financing during 2007.

Relations with Iceland were given a special symbolic touch by the visit of the prime
minister of Iceland, Geir Hilmar Haarde, on August 21–23 to celebrate a historic oc-
casion – the 15th anniversary of the day on which the Republic of Iceland as the first
country in the world recognised Estonia’s restored independence. To mark this his-
toric event the prime ministers of the two countries on 22 August unveiled on the wall
of the ministry of foreign affairs a memorial plaque dedicated to Iceland.

Estonia’s relations with Latvia and Lithuania developed in 2006 towards a deeper in-
tegration which is marked by the growing influence of the EU dimension on bilateral
relations. Estonia’s relations with Latvia are characterised by open-minded discus-
sions and consultations on all essential developments and issues in Europe and the
world at large. Regular meetings and consultations between the heads of departments
of various ministries have become an integral element of Estonian-Latvian coopera-
tion. At the same time several high-level visits were also exchanged.

Trade with both Latvia and Lithuania has been growing from year to year. Latvia’s
central position and its larger market have lured Estonian businessmen to find new

                                               OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

challenges on the Latvian but also on the Lithuanian market. In 2006 the trade turn-
over with both Latvia and Lithuania increased by almost 20%. It should also be
mentioned that last year Estonians became the largest foreign investors in Latvian
economy. The number of enterprises started by Estonian capital in Latvia is nearly
1200. The growing cooperation between Estonian-Latvian border regions is also ac-
quiring a broader dimension, be it the utilisation of the trade potential of the region
in connection with Russia’s becoming a member of the WTO, or the transportation of
Asian goods to Europe. A good example of Estonian-Latvian cross-border cooperation
is that between the border towns Valga and Valka, which among other things com-
prises cooperation between the police authorities of the two cities.

When speaking about the relations with the Visegrad countries, good mutual under-
standing based on common experience from the recent past, and close cooperation at
both bilateral and multilateral level can be brought forward as the characteristic fea-
tures. In 2006 a regional dimension was added to the said characteristics: the foreign
ministers of the Visegrad group and of the Baltic countries met in the course of the
year on several occasions in order to coordinate their actions regarding topical issues
like the cancellation of the visa requirement by the US or the extension of the Schen-
gen area. Definitely this cooperation will remain useful also in the coming years.

A special chapter in the cooperation with the Visegrad countries is cultural exchange,
which was especially active with the Czech Republic. In 2006 a variety of Estonian
music groups ranging from folk music to modern jazz performed in Czech concert halls.
One of Estonia’s most renowned orchestras Hortus Musicus participated in the interna-
tional festival “The Prague Autumn”. The works of Arvo Pärt and Erkki Sven Tüür, two
well-known Estonian composers, were performed at the Hradec Kralove music forum.

Relations with Poland were traditionally active – visits were paid by the speaker of
the parliament, prime minister, foreign minister and commander of the defence forces
during 2006. The central themes of Estonian-Polish meetings and consultations have
been the neighbourhood policy of the EU, relations with Russia, the enlargement of
the EU and energy security. The fact that both Estonia and Poland regard the EU’s
eastern neighbours as one of their foreign policy priorities give us new areas of coop-
eration, e.g. trilateral development aid projects in Belarus, Moldova or Ukraine. With a
view to the future, it is in Estonia’s interest to continue consultations between foreign
ministries and defence ministries at a working level. In 2006 Estonia’s representation
in Poland expanded also to the southern regions of the country – in June the third
Estonian honorary consulate in Poland was opened in the historic city of Krakow.

In 2006 there were numerous contacts with Hungary, including and at the highest
level. In March Hungary’s President Laszlo Solyom paid a state visit to Estonia, during


which alongside traditional bilateral issues and problems of the Finno-Ugric peoples,
also EU matters were discussed, in particular the common energy policy of the EU
which has become one of the burning issues in today’s Europe. It should also be men-
tioned that in November, when the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution was
commemorated in Budapest, Estonia was represented at the highest level – it was the
first visit abroad of the newly elected President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

In relations with Slovakia close contacts continued both at the top level and at a
working level in the form of political consultations. Estonia is particularly interested
in Slovakia’s experience of the Western Balkans. This together with the both countries’
interest in the EU’s eastern policy provide an excellent basis for a deeper cooperation
between Estonia and Slovakia. One of the notable events during 2006 was the exhibi-
tion of Estonian architecture at the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava. The exhibi-
tion which was entitled Estonian Home 2002-2006, was arranged in cooperation with
The Estonian Embassy in Vienna.

Estonia and Slovenia share a number of viewpoints on topical EU issues. Slovenia is
presently in the process of reforming its economy and resorts in several areas to the
Estonian experience. On the other hand, the Slovenian experience of the transition to
the euro could be of interest to Estonia. In addition, the Slovenian Presidency of the
EU which begins on January 1, 2008, is quite close already.

For both Bulgaria and Romania the year 2006 was of major historic significance – their
process of accession to the European Union reached completion, and since 1 January
2007 the two countries are members of the Union. The mutual interest between Estonia
and the said countries, both as regards official and grassroots level contacts, has been
growing steadily over the past few years. Also tourism has increased lately, as well as
investors’ interest. Despite the limited number of high-level visits, contacts between
experts in different fields have increased constantly. Last year the number of mutual
visits and contacts between the parliaments of Estonia and Bulgaria and Romania grew
especially quickly. While Bulgaria and Romania are in the first place interested in Esto-
nia’s experience of integration into European structures, Estonia in its turn is primarily
interested in the experience of the two countries of themes connected with the Black
Sea and Balkans region.

A milestone of 2006 was the expansion of Estonia’s network of missions abroad to
the Balkans. Thus in November the prime minister of Estonia opened an embassy
in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The prime minister was accompanied by a business
delegation and during the visit an Estonian-Bulgarian business seminar was held. As
a result the mutual interest in investment has shown rapid growth.

                                                 OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Estonia views its policy towards Russia through the prism of the European Union
and favours a further deepening of the relations between the EU and Russia. These
relations are based on a strategic partnership, which presupposes shared values and
a frank dialogue on all issues. Both Estonia and the EU are interested in a democratic,
stable and predictable Russia. Economic relations form a large and visible part of the
EU-Russia relations, yet equally important are other issues, for example human rights
and environmental questions. For the successful managing of such a multiple range
of issues, a balanced and unified policy of the EU towards Russia is required.

One of the most important developments of 2006 was the work on the preparation of
the new EU-Russia agreement to replace the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation agree-
ment. Work on the EU mandate for the negotiations on the agreement will continue
in 2007. It is in the common interest of the EU to have a mandate based on a strong
internal agreement and to start negotiations with Russia as soon as possible.

We welcome the active contacts between Russia and the European Union on a wide range
of issues. Both sides regard this relationship as highly important, even though not in all
areas desirable results have been achieved. Questions have been raised by the EU about
some developments. Among such issues are the concerns about the freedom of the media
and restrictions on the activities of NGOs. The way Russia has used energy as a means of
putting pressure on other countries, notably Ukraine and recently Belarus, has attracted
wide attention. There is an impression that Russia regards the advance of democracy in its
neighbouring countries more as a threat to its security and interests, rather than a welcome
development. It is important to continue a frank dialogue with Russia on such issues.

Although the EU agenda covers most of the important questions related to Russia, we
do not underestimate the importance of developing bilateral relations. For success,
this needs mutual interest and wish to cooperate. Although high-level contacts have
been few, at the practical level cooperation is working well. There is close coopera-
tion between various agencies, including border guard, customs, veterinary and food
authorities. There has been fast growth in trade and in the number of Russian tourists
visiting Estonia. A positive achievement was the opening by Russia of the river ports
of Pskov and Storozhinets for international shipping traffic. Cultural relations are as
active as ever. In November 2006 a Russian theatre festival “Zolotaja maska” took
place in Tallinn. Although the relations on a working level are normal, a dialogue be-
tween neighbours should be more consistent and Estonia for its part is ready for this.

Ukraine is one of Estonia’s priority partner countries in foreign policy and also in the
development cooperation. The bilateral cooperation covers a wide range of different
topics from political support to Ukraine to practical economic cooperation. As a friend


of Ukraine, Estonia appreciates the achievements of Ukraine in the strengthening of de-
mocracy and the further crystallisation of Ukraine’s foreign and security policy goals.

Estonia has consistently supported the open doors policy of the European Union and
NATO. Both organisations serve the purpose of broadening the sphere of democracy
and security, increased welfare and wider opportunities – thus bringing more welfare
and security for all. Today’s Ukraine has clearly expressed its European aspiration.
The EU has responded to this by starting negotiations on the PCA and visa facilita-
tion. The EU is ready to start free trade negotiations as Ukraine joins the WTO. The
European Union intends to make the European Neighbourhood policy more attractive
to its partners (including Ukraine) by offering better trade and investment prospects,
facilitating people-to-people contacts and travel possibilities, opening up more fi-
nancing possibilities etc. Estonia supports the further strengthening of the ENP.

Ukraine is interested in cooperation with NATO at its own pace. Estonia respects
Ukraine’s choices, understanding that Ukraine needs time for making decisions. Ulti-
mately it remains for Ukraine to decide whether to prefer for instance a European free
trade agreement to the CIS common economic space, or NATO membership to the CIS
collective security agreement.

Estonia is prepared to share its experience with Ukraine. As before, Estonia arranged
in the autumn of 2006 for the students of the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine a
two-week training course on the accession to the EU and NATO. In cooperation with
Sweden, in 2006/2007 seven Ukrainian students can attend training at the Estonian
School of Diplomacy. Training on the EU is offered also to the Ukrainian officials
working with the EU issues, experts of the Ukrainian Laboratory of Food Quality and
Safety officials of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry etc.

The good bilateral relations are illustrated by several visits. In December 2006 President
Yushchenko visited Estonia. At the meetings the Ukrainian president and Estonia’s po-
litical leaders discussed topics ranging from Ukraine’s aspirations towards NATO and
the EU to cooperation in the field of energy. The leaders also discussed the ways how
Estonia could support Ukraine. The fact that the Ukrainian president held a speech
to the Estonian parliament Riigikogu, emphasised Ukraine’s importance in Estonia’s
foreign policy and Estonia’s interest towards Ukraine. In October Ukraine’s foreign
minister Boris Tarasyuk visited Estonia, participating in the conference arranged by
the Riigikogu, “Common values and interests in intercommunication between the EU
and its neighbours”. The Ukrainian and Estonian foreign ministers also signed a joint
communiqué on the cooperation in the field of Euro-Atlantic integration. In January
2007, during the visit of Estonia’s prime minister to Ukraine a framework agreement
on the economic cooperation between Estonia and Ukraine was signed.

                                                OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

Moldova belongs to the priority partner countries of Estonia’s foreign policy and devel-
opment cooperation. Moldova has taken a course on integration with Europe. Its devel-
opment is, however, overshadowed by the Transnistria conflict. Negotiations lasting over
several years and numerous peace plans have not brought a solution. The search for a
solution is complicated by the continued presence of Russian troops in contradiction
to the decisions of the 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul about the full and unconditional
withdrawal of Russian troops. The fulfilment of these obligations by Russia is a question
of the credibility of the OSCE. The withdrawal of troops is an important factor for both
the free development of Moldova and for the solution of the Transnistria conflict.

Estonia’s position is that the Transnistria conflict must be resolved with peaceful means
and honouring the territorial integrity of Moldova. The current model of peacekeeping by
CIS forces must be reviewed as it does not meet international standards. The new model
should create trust between Transnistria and Moldova. Therefore the European Union
should consider a possibility of taking the lead of the peacekeeping in the new format. At
the same time, an EU or EU-led mission does not exclude Russia’s participation.

The Transnistria issue affects the security situation in the whole region. It is impor-
tant for Moldova to focus on the domestic reforms in order to improve the socioeco-
nomic situation, strengthen the ties with the European Union and reduce the negative
impact of the Transnistria problem on the development of the country. On the other
hand, continued EU support to the transformation of Moldova is required.

Estonia regards as highly important the European Neighbourhood Policy with its main
goal – building up of a democratic civil society in the new neighbouring countries,
including Moldova. At the same time it is in Moldova’s interest to create effectively
functioning state institutions, properly functioning market economy, an independent
and effective justice system, to ensure the functioning of the open civil society and
effective fight against corruption.

A positive example of the EU-Moldova cooperation is the EU border support mission
(EUBAM), which contributes to the increase of the capability of the border guard and
customs services of Ukraine and Moldova, prevents cross-border illegal trade and
reduces the number of related corruption cases. Estonia is represented in the EUBAM
with five officials.

Within the framework of the EU-Moldova relations Estonia and Moldova have become
good neighbours and cooperation partners. The bilateral relations intensified in 2006.
President Rüütel visited Moldova in March, foreign minister Paet in October. An honor-
ary consulate of Estonia was opened in Chisinau. In September an Estonian diplomat
started working at the foreign ministry of Moldova as an expert with a task to offer


advice to the ministry primarily in the areas related to the European Union. Estonia con-
siders it important that Moldova would channel its political vigour into the sustainable
development of the reform process. The Moldovan officials are introduced to the experi-
ence of Estonia, which they can use also in the work on Moldova’s reform process.

The current low state of the EU relations with Belarus is reflected clearly also in
Estonia’s bilateral relations with Belarus. Estonia supports the EU’s “double track”
approach – restrictions on the leadership on one hand, support and assistance to the
building up of the civic society on the other hand. This approach was reinforced by
the presidential elections of 2006, which were neither free nor fair. The EU continues
its sanctions against the president of Belarus Lukashenka and the officials who have
been directly involved in the breach of the election standards and human rights. In
November the Commission presented to Belarus a document which outlines the steps
that would be taken by the EU to the benefit of Belarus, if Minsk would confirm its
readiness for democratisation and the improvement of the human rights situation.

Estonia’s view is that in spite of the ruling regime of Belarus we should continue
the support to the democratic forces and maintain the pressure on the regime in the
human rights issue. In 2006 ten students who were expelled from the universities of
Belarus for political reasons could continue their studies in Estonia.

The interest of the European Union in Georgia has recently considerably increased.
This has been caused by Georgia’s positive reform agenda, the enlargement of the
EU, and the increased interest of the new member states towards the security policy
developments in the Southern Caucasus. In 2004 the European Union decided to
invite the Southern Caucasus countries to join the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The ENP Action Plans with the three countries were signed in November 2006. The
Georgia ENP Action Plan outlines the most important priorities of Georgia’s develop-
ment. One of the leading priorities is the peaceful resolution of the South Ossetia and
Abkhazia frozen conflicts, respecting the principle of the territorial integrity of Geor-
gia. The EU Security Strategy states that violent or frozen conflicts in Europe’s neigh-
bourhood are a threat to the security of the whole region. Thus, there is a need for
the EU to be involved in the efforts to resolve the conflicts. The years-long presence
of the CIS peacekeeping forces and the work of the existing negotiating mechanisms
have not resulted in the improvement of the situation, which is still characterised by
high tensions and volatility. This also illustrates the need for the EU to increase its
contribution to the search of solutions.

The situation was further complicated by the so-called spy scandal in the Georgia-
Russia relations, to which in our assessment Russia reacted in an extremely tough and
disproportionate manner, by cutting off diplomatic, political and economic relations

                                              OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

with Georgia. Although the tempers have cooled by the beginning of 2007, Russia
has not lifted its ban on Georgian goods, and the relations between the two countries
are still highly tense. Estonia followed the aggravation of the conflict between Russia
and Georgia with concern and together with her EU partners called on both sides to
normalise the situation.

The European Union contributes to the search of a solution to the frozen conflicts
first of all through the work of the EU Special Representative for South Caucasus.
Therefore Estonia supports the strengthening of the EUSR’s team and his closer in-
volvement in the handling of the conflicts. Estonia, as the EU, does not recognise the
so-called referendum that took place in 2006 in South Ossetia. To ensure a peaceful
solution of the conflicts, there is a need for wide confidence-building measures. Ef-
forts must be made to achieve the establishing of one negotiating and peacekeeping
models that would be acceptable to both sides of respective conflicts and would
contribute to the solution.

The government of Georgia has a goal of integrating in the closer future with NATO
and in the longer term perspective with the EU. An important achievement for Geor-
gia was the decision of NATO to start an intensified dialogue with Georgia. This is
a new level in Georgia-NATO relations, setting concrete targets, taking into account
Georgia’s prospect of accession in the future. Estonia supports Georgia’s aspirations
towards NATO and the political, economic and defence reforms carried out in the

Thanks to our experience and knowledge, Estonia can play an effective role as an
adviser and mediator in the relations between the EU and Georgia. Our transition
experience is important to Georgia in the conceptualising and consistent planning of
the reforms. Estonia’s former Prime Minister Mart Laar has for almost a year acted
as an adviser to Georgia’s President Saakashvili. In November 2006 Estonian Presi-
dent Ilves visited Georgia, meeting Georgia’s president and other high officials. In
December Estonia opened its Embassy in Tbilisi, thus indicating the willingness to
strengthen relations with Georgia. Estonia has continued its cooperation programs
with Georgia: the IT-related “Deer leap” program and the training of Georgia’s police
officers. In order to facilitate contacts and also to support Georgia’s Europe-related
goals, the Estonian government relieved the holders of Georgian diplomatic passports
of the entry visa requirement, and Georgian citizens are no more charged a fee for a
single-entry or short-term visa. At the end of last year Estonia decided to support the
EUSR’s activity in Georgia with a sum of 100000 Euros.

A positive sign in the development of Armenia and Azerbaijan is that both countries
have turned towards Europe and are working to secure political and economic progress.


Both countries signed ENP action plans in November 2006. The years-long dispute
over Nagorno-Karabakh has not produced results. Yet the recent meetings between
the leaders of two countries offer some hope of progress. Estonia’s relations with
both countries in 2006 were relatively modest. The foreign ministers’ visits were sus-
pended for various reasons. There were bilateral foreign ministers’ meetings in the
margins of the OSCE ministerial in December in Brussels. Therefore, the calendar of
bilateral relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2007 should be more intensive.

Estonia’s ties with the five Central Asian countries (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) are relatively modest both in the political
and economic sphere. The countries have, though, become recently more important
geostrategically and their significance as energy suppliers has increased considerably.
Being situated in the central part of Eurasia and possessing huge energy reserves
(Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan belong by their gas and oil resources
to the first ten countries of the world), they have an important role in the energy
security of many countries. At the same time there are concerns about democratic
developments in these countries, in some countries there have been cases of dispro-
portionate domestic use of force and problems with Islamic extremists. Some of the
Southern countries of the region battle with “soft security” risks, first of all as transit
corridors for narcotics.

The Central Asian countries make efforts to develop ties with both Asian and Europe-
an countries. Most of them are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
They are important in the context of the fight against terrorism. The European Union
has an important role to play in the choice of the future orientation made by these
countries. Therefore Estonia supports the idea of an EU Central Asia strategy, aimed
at promoting European values. The key issues for the EU are stability and promotion
of European values in the region, and also energy cooperation.

Estonia’s relations at the bilateral level with these countries have become some-
what more active. For example, in 2006 diplomatic relations were concluded with
Tajikistan. This was the only Central Asian country which so far did not have diplo-
matic relations with Estonia. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met in the margins of the
UN General Assembly in New York with the foreign minister of Kazakhstan, who an-
nounced an intention to accredit a diplomat to work in Tallinn. In September the legal
experts of the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan visited Tallinn, in order to examine and
develop the legal basis of the bilateral relations. In October the new Ambassador of
Kazakhstan visited Tallinn where he was informed of Estonia’s intention to accredit a
non-residing Ambassador to Kazakhstan. In December Estonia’s foreign minister met
his colleague from Kyrgyzstan in the margins of the OSCE Ministerial in Vienna. The
foreign ministers of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have been invited to visit Tallinn in

                                               OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

2007. The development of the relations with the Central Asian countries is a sign that
Estonia’s diplomacy broadens its scope of activity.

Having safeguarded our security by entering NATO and regained our place among
European countries, we have got more time and resources to pay attention to Asia.
Living in a multi-polar world requires our participation in the shaping of this world
and we have to formulate our positions on all the aspects of the EU-Asia relations.
As our foreign minister Urmas Paet pointed out in his report to the parliament on
7 December 2006: “The European Union is today active in a world, where the role of
Asia is growing.”

Estonia’s main cooperation framework with the countries of the Asian region is the
Asia-Europe Meeting – ASEM. Estonia became a member of ASEM in October 2004
upon becoming a member of the EU. Estonia supports wholeheartedly ASEM coopera-
tion – today ASEM is the largest cooperation organisation in the world (except for the
UN, of course) comprising more than 60 per cent of the world’s population. The next
important event in the framework of ASEM will be its foreign ministers’ meeting in
March 2007 in Germany. Complementary opportunities for cooperation in the field of
culture and education as well as for people-to-people contacts are opened by Estonia’s
membership in the Asia-European-Foundation – ASEF. So far Estonia has not been
very active in utilising the possibilities offered by membership in ASEF and our minis-
tries are presently studying how to make the best use of our membership.

When speaking about bilateral relations, it should be noted once again that relations
with most of Asian countries have for many years been less active, compared to some
of our other foreign policy priorities. Contacts have been more lively with India,
China and Japan. In the latter two, Estonia also has its only embassies in Asia.

Afghanistan belongs to the priority partner countries of Estonia’s development aid. Esto-
nia is also participating in ISAF, which is currently NATO’s most important military mis-
sion. In the summer of 2006 an Estonian contingent was transferred from Mazar-e-Sharif
to the capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah. From the beginning of December 2006
the number of Estonian troops serving in Afghanistan is 130. This is the largest contin-
gent that Estonia has ever deployed in an international stabilisation operation.

In the autumn of 2006 the first ever Estonian diplomat/civil representative was ap-
pointed to Afghanistan. As a first result of his work a humanitarian project has been
launched with the aim of supplying medical equipment to the regional children’s
hospital in Bost. Last year Estonia contributed over 100 000 € to international aid
programmes in Afghanistan.


Nation-building in Afghanistan is certainly going to be a time-consuming process
and Estonia is ready to contribute to it as long as necessary. Estonia is also ready
to participate in the special EU mission, which is going to consult and support the
training of Afghanistan’s National Police according to the Afghanistan development
plan worked out by the European Commission for the years 2007–2013. Estonia has
also voiced the opinion that the mission’s activities should be expanded to Southern
Afghanistan, where the lack of stability is especially perceivable.

In September the Estonian minister of defence Jürgen Ligi visited Afghanistan. Later,
in December, Primes Minister Andrus Ansip and Commander of the Defence Forces
Ants Laaneots visited Afghanistan and met the Estonian military stationed there.

Exchange of visits with other South and Southeast Asian countries has been some-
what more modest. In July Estonia hosted Japan’s minister for economy, administra-
tive reform, special regions and regional development Kouki Tschuma.

In September the foreign minister of New Zealand Winston Peters paid a visit to
Tallinn and signed here an agreement on working holiday visas (such a document is
in effect between Estonia and Australia since May 2005).

Estonia’s most important partner in Asia is China, with which Estonia has signed
practically all the necessary cooperation agreements in the economic and cultural
spheres. The most prominent visits of 2006 were those by the Estonian minister of
defence Jürgen Ligi and the Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Council, Jia Quinglin. For obvious reasons China is also Estonia’s most important
trade partner in Asia. The past few years have also seen a growing interest of Esto-
nian businessmen in China. The Estonian business association Enterprise Estonia is
currently planning to open its representation in China, while quite a few Estonian
companies have already been active on the Chinese market on their own, and their
number is likely to grow in the coming years. In January 2006 the Estonian foreign
minister Urmas Paet and China’s deputy foreign minister Li Jinzhang signed an agree-
ment enabling Estonia to construct a new embassy building in Beijing.

Alongside the exchange of visits, bilateral consultations between ministries of foreign
affairs are becoming more and more common. By now they have come under way
with India, Japan and Pakistan. In April 2006 consultations were held between the
foreign ministries of Estonia and Japan. Bilateral relations between the two countries
are developing rapidly and agreements regulating intergovernmental cooperation are
in place. Although trade with Japan has more than quadrupled over the past ten
years, it was found that time was not yet ripe for agreements on mutual promotion
of investments and avoidance of double taxation. The number of Japanese tourists

                                              OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

who find their way to Estonia has also increased considerably. Last year there were
more than 20 000 of them. For the second year in succession the representative of
the Estonian business association Enterprise Estonia, Kosaku Yamaguchi, is active in
Tokyo, and now there are plans to establish a full-fledged representation in the Japa-
nese capital. The Japanese government has on its part appropriated means for grants
for Estonian students and among other things donated considerable means for the
Estonian National Gallery, KUMU.

Last years’ consultations between the foreign ministries of Estonia and India were
the fourth in succession. In addition to the existing agreements on cooperation in
economy, education and research, tourism and culture, preparations for two impor-
tant economic agreements – on promotion of investments and avoidance of double
taxation – has started. There are good prospects for cooperation in the area of IT and
biotechnology, and exchange of students and teachers is also growing. The efforts of
the honorary consul of India in Estonia, as well as several Estonian cultural personali-
ties have contributed to the development of the cultural exchange between the two
contries. An appropriate programme for cooperation in the field of culture, education
and research is under preparation. In order to better organise the issuing of Estonian
visas to India’s citizens, an Estonian consular diplomat has for more than a year been
working at the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi.

Consultations between the foreign ministries of Estonia and Pakistan were initiated
in 2005. The next round is planned to take place during the coming spring season and
the main objective will be to outline the scope of bilateral agreements.

For the near future, consultations are also planned with South Korea, Indonesia and
several other states of the region.

The existence of diplomatic relations is an important precondition for all international
communication. Therefore, it is our goal to establish within the next couple of years
diplomatic relations with those countries of Oceania, with which we do not yet have
them. They are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In Septem-
ber a protocol on establishing diplomatic relations was signed with Micronesia.

During the past year an increased interest in Estonia on the part of Asian countries
could be noted – the main reason for that is probably our membership in the EU.
Southeast Asian countries consider it very important to accredit ambassadors to all
EU countries. Thus in November 2006 Cambodia appointed its first non-resident am-
bassador to Estonia who is residing in Moscow. For both practical and political rea-
sons Estonia welcomes accreditation to Estonia of ambassadors residing in the Nordic
countries. Co-accrediting is a common practice among Asian countries – except China


and Japan – when it comes to the Baltic countries. Estonia on its part is, of course,
working for the opening of new embassies in Tallinn.

The development plan of Estonia’s foreign representations does not envisage setting
up diplomatic missions in Southeast Asia or Oceania. For furthering relations with
the states of this region, it is, however, necessary to have a network of representation
which corresponds to our capacity, especially because Southeast Asia and Oceania
are becoming more and more popular among Estonian tourists. Moreover, this would
also contribute to the establishing of economic contacts with the region. For this pur-
pose there are plans to use co-accreditation from our embassies in Asian countries,
non-resident ambassadors and appointment of honorary consuls. In addition to our
present honorary consuls in Australia, the Philippines, China, India, Pakistan and
Thailand, honorary consuls will also be appointed to Western Australia and New
Zealand. This will increase the number of Estonian honorary consuls around the
world to more than 100. There are also plans to appoint honorary consuls to Japan
and Malaysia.

The Middle East and the Gulf countries
The Middle East – both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the surrounding states and
the Gulf countries – is a subject that has a considerable impact on political develop-
ments in almost the whole world. Historically the interests of many countries and
cultures meet and often collide in the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterra-
nean. Nor was the past year a peaceful one in the region. As a member state of the
European Union, Estonia is constantly participating in discussions and in the shaping
of the EU’s standpoints on such themes as the Middle East conflict, Iran’s nuclear am-
bitions and support for the development of state structures in Iraq. We also endeav-
our to contribute to the democratic development of the region through participation
in the EU’s election monitoring missions. Last year Estonian diplomats participated
in missions in the territory of the Palestinian Authority and Yemen. Elections in the
Palestinian Authority were undoubtedly one of the most important events of the year
in the Middle East and Estonia is happy to have made its direct contribution there.
The election monitoring missions in Yemen in turn provided a unique opportunity
to observe the process of the formation of the democratic choice of this nation and
to become familiar with the culture and habits of one of the most traditionalist Arab

Historically, Estonia’s contacts with the Middle East have been relatively modest.
During the past few years we have, however, developed closer relations with some
countries of the region, among which Israel is the most important. The regular politi-
cal consultations are a sign of the constructive and friendly relations between Esto-
nia and Israel. The latest round of consultations was held in June 2006. Economic

                                              OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

relations between the two countries were given a boost by the visit of the Estonian
minister for economy and communication and a business seminar in November. The
most promising areas of cooperation are ICT and the implementation of research
achievements in production. Bilateral relations are certainly energized by the small
but very active Jewish community in Estonia through their contacts with Jews who
have moved to Israel from Estonia. Cultural contacts between Estonia and Israel have
been very lively for years already and they will certainly receive a new boost from the
completion of the construction of Tallinn’s synagogue.

A pleasant surprise of the year 2006, as regards the Middle East, was the new im-
pulse in relations with Jordan. The basis for common interest was found in oil shale,
which has been mined and used in Estonia for decades. During these years Estonian
researchers have accumulated considerable experience and technological knowledge
of processing this valuable mineral. Last year a preliminary agreement was concluded
between the Estonian state-owned energy company and Jordan on the construction
of a oil shale processing plant in Jordan in order to launch large-scale oil production
from Jordanian oil shale. In addition to the economic circles, also Jordanian students
have shown interest towards Estonia. A group of Jordanian students visited Tartu Art
School last summer within the EU youth exchange programme, and returned home
with knowledge about the life and studying opportunities in Estonia. As Jordan is the
only country in the region which has been visited by the president of Estonia, it is
expected that King Abdullah II will pay a visit to our country already in 2007.

Last year’s political developments in Lebanon were worrisome for the whole interna-
tional community. In August, the concerted efforts of the UN and EU halted the military
conflict but reaching a political solution is far more complicated and time-consuming.
Besides, the conflict has damaged the economy and worsened the humanitarian situ-
ation in the country. Estonia joined international relief operations in order to support
the people of Lebanon in difficult times. Estonia made donations to support those who
had lost their homes in the armed conflict, and to finance de-mining operations.

As a member state of the EU, Estonia has the right and duty to participate also in
the formulation of the EU’s policy for the Gulf region. So, last year Foreign Minister
Urmas Paet participated in the joint meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council and
the EU’s foreign ministers, where mainly questions related to the EU-GCC free trade
agreement were dealt with.

Estonian defence forces participate in the international coalition which assists the
democratically elected government of Iraq in building up a functioning state and
helps to ensure security in Iraq until the Iraqi security forces will be able to assume
the responsibility for the security of the nation. In November 2006 Foreign Minister


Urmas Paet visited Iraq and met with Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and the comman-
ders of the coalition forces. This was the first meeting of an Estonian politician with
the prime minister of the democratically elected Iraqi government. The foreign minis-
ter, of course, also visited Estonian troops at their base which lies north of Baghdad.

In November the foreign minister also visited Kuwait where he had a bilateral meet-
ing with the Kuwaiti foreign minister Dr. Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, during
which the situation in the region and its prospects for the future were discussed. The two
ministers also discussed the importance of the presence of the coalition forces in Iraq.

An important step in furthering relations with the Arab world was the establishing of
diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, which is very popular among
Estonian tourists.

Estonia’s contacts with African states are rather limited, but as people travel more
and more, they also become aware of the economic potential and the recreational
possibilities offered by Africa. Estonia had trade relations with some African coun-
tries, like Morocco, already before World War II. A small number of Estonians are
living in Morocco, the South African Republic, Nabibia and some other countries.
Several Estonian companies have noticeable ties with Africa.

Presently Estonia aims to diversify its relations with African countries and to expand
them geographically as much as possible. In 2006 diplomatic relations were estab-
lished with Burkina Faso, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Seychelles, Rwanda and
Uganda. The communiqué on establishing diplomatic relations between Estonia and
Uganda was signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries in New York during
the General Assembly of the UN. During the meeting the ministers exchanged views
on the situation in Africa and the international situation in general. So far Estonia
has no diplomatic missions in Africa and our relations with African countries are
managed by non-resident ambassadors to Egypt and Morocco. Estonia has honorary
consuls in Egypt, Morocco and the Republic of South Africa.

From the Estonian point of view Egypt can be regarded as the most important and
promising cooperation partner in Africa. Egypt is one of Africa’s leading nations both
politically and demographically. Actually, Egypt is a kind of border state, as having
relations with this country means having relations with both Africa and the Arab
world. The capital city of Egypt, Cairo, is one of the world centres of power as the
Headquarters of the Arab League is located here. As the most populous Arab country
with long-standing ties to Europe, Egypt also has a central role in the formation of
public opinion in the Arab world. Estonia has therefore initiated the idea of regular

                                              OVERVIEW OF WORLDWIDE BILATERAL RELATIONS   2006

bilateral political consultations with Egypt which will hopefully start already in 2007.
In 2006 Estonia appointed its first (non-resident) ambassador to Egypt.

Relations with Sub-Saharan countries were in 2006 in the first place characterised
by the spirit of the EU’s strategy for Africa which was adopted in 2005. Within the
limits set by Estonia’s economic capacity we are trying to help with both material
resources and know-how in relieving crises in different parts of Africa, continuing
our participation in aid deliveries to the refugees of Darfur which was started in 2004
and 2005. In 2006 Estonia appropriated 800 000 EEK for the improvement of women’s
and children’s health in Southern Sudan and 585 000 EEK for the improvement of the
educational system in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As Estonia not so long ago was itself a recipient of aid from abroad, it is well aware
of how important it is not only to give ad hoc material aid but also to assist people to
build up democratic governance and conduct various educational projects.

Estonia is also an active participant in observation missions. Last year Estonian rep-
resentatives took part in election missions in Zambia, Uganda, Democratic Republic
of the Congo and Mauritania.

In 2006 Estonia participated in two conferences on the issues of migration, in which
ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of the interior and development aid of the
EU and African states participated. Both conferences approved a joint declaration
and an action plan for cooperation on migration issues between Europe and Africa.
Estonia’s participation at these conferences is a sign that we participate in the search
of better solutions to the migration issues.

Latin America
Estonia has cooperated successfully with Latin American countries in different inter-
national organisations and there are a number of features that are common to Estonia
and Latin American countries, especially in the economic sphere. Many Latin American
countries have underdone rapid changes, experienced various economic models and
undertaken radical economic reforms. Due to its successful economic reforms, Estonia
has achieved considerable success in its economic and social development, but we
are far from offering our experience as something final and definitive. Yet, due to our
experience, we follow with interest the competition of different economic models – and
consequently, different worldviews – in different Latin American countries and on the
continent as a whole. Today, is is not possible to draw clear boundaries between the
ideologies of the left and right, as it was perhaps a hundred years ago. Latin America
is one of the regions, where this is especially evident. The Estonian reform experience
was presented in Latin America by the former prime minister Mart Laar. We have


friends in Latin America like the Peruvian analyst Álvaro Varga Llosa, who has done a
great deal to make Estonia known in Latin America as a successful reform country.

As for closer contacts, the visit of the Columbian foreign minister Carolina Barco Isakson
at the beginning of February was certainly a landmark. She met in Tallinn with President
Arnold Rüütel, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Foreign Minister Paet to discuss both
bilateral and multilateral issues and possibilities for interregional cooperation.

Estonia’s membership in the EU gives us also additional possibilities for observ-
ing the developments in Latin America. In May 2006 Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
participated in the EU, Latin American and Caribbean summit in Vienna. Estonian
diplomats participated last year also in the observations missions in Venezuela and
Bolivia. Apart from our own contribution we also became richer gathering experience
and capacity for analysis.

Estonia has also practiced successful cooperation with Latin American countries in
the international context. There are several countries on the continent – for instance
Brazil, but also Mexico, Peru, Argentina and Chile – which by their size and influence
are acquiring an increasingly important position in world politics. Beside the really big
and influential countries of the continent, there are also a lot of small nations, with
whom we have a good mutual understanding. Especially for the smaller countries,
political success will in the future increasingly depend on their ability to gain support
in international organisations. Also, international forums offer us possibilities for mu-
tual exchange of opinions. For example, foreign minister Urmas Paet met in September
in the margins of the UN General Assembly with his Guatemalan colleague Gerth
Rosenthal, in order to consider the possibilities for future cooperation.

However, Estonia is looking forward to developing good relations with all the coun-
tries of Latin America irrespective of their size. The the first step in this is the estab-
lishment of diplomatic relations. Thus in 2006 Estonia established diplomatic rela-
tions with Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Latin America is important for Estonia also because, compared to some other faraway
continents, relatively many Estonians and people with Estonian roots live there. As
Estonia has no embassies in Latin America, the honorary consuls, many of whom are
of Estonian descent, have an important role in developing the relations between the
Latin American countries and Estonia. In addition, consular missions are organised to
help with various practical concerns, like acquiring Estonian citizenship, legal issues
etc. In order to meet the requirements of the Estonian community in Latin America,
last year the Estonian consul residing in New York visited both Buenos Aires and São
Paolo, in order to offer consular services.