Bulgaria recognised Estonia on 20 May 1921 and once again on 26 August 1991. Diplomatic relations were restored on 10 September 1991.
Estonia has been represented in Bulgaria by ambassadors Peeter Reštšinski (1999-2000), Aivo Orav (2001-2005) and Ants Frosch (2006-2007), who all resided in Warsaw.
The Estonian Embassy in Sofia was opened on 13 November 2006 during the visit of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and closed on 31 July 2012. The first Estonian ambassador to reside in Sofia was Rein Oidekivi.
In the period 2011-2016 the Estonian ambassador to Bulgaria was Toomas Kukk, residing in Vilnius. The current Estonian ambassador to Bulgaria, Ants Frosch, presented his credentials to Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on 17 July 2017.
Bulgaria had an embassy in Tallinn from 2008 until 2011 and it was led by Ambassador Petio Petev, the first Bulgarian ambassador to reside in Tallinn, from 15 July 2009 – 1 October 2011. After the embassy in Tallinn was closed, Bulgaria covers Estonia from its embassy in Helsinki.The current ambassador Martin Ivanov, presented his credentials to President Ilves on 28 September 2016. On 29 September 2003, Estonia opened its first honorary consulate in Sofia. The consulate is led by Boris Halatchev. As of the fall of 2012, Petko Roussinov is Estonia's honorary consul in Burgas.
On 26 March 2017, Bulgaria held Parliamentary elections to elect 240 Members to its National Assembly. The winner of the elections was the centre-right GERB, led by Mr Boyko Borisov, who has served as the country´s Prime Minister from 2009-2013 and 2014-2017. GERB won 32% of the vote compared to the main opposition party BSP’s 27%. The new government of the Republic of Bulgaria under Prime Minister Boyko Borisov took office on 4 May 2017.
|November 2016||Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria and Minister of Education and Science Meglena Kuneva|
|September 2013||Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev on a state visit|
|October 2012||Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov|
|September 2011||Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in Tallinn|
|September 2010||Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov|
|May 2010||Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov|
|April 2010||Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov at the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn|
|August 2009||Bulgarian Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva for the informal meeting of female speakers of EU member states|
|January 2006||Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivailo Georgiev Kalfin|
|November 2004||Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha|
|Aprill 2016||Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand in Sofia|
|January 2014||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a working visit to Sofia|
|January 2011||Minister of the Interior Marko Pomerants|
|August 2010||Chairman of Riigikogu Ene Ergma in Varna at a meeting of the female EU parliament speakers|
|March 2009||Chairman of Riigikogu Ene Ergma|
|November 2008||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|November 2006||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|April 2006||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in the NATO foreign ministers’ informal meeting in Sofia|
|May 2005||President Arnold Rüütel on a state visit|
|March 2004||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland|
- Agreement on International Transport of Passengers and Goods (came into force 12.08.99);
- Basic Agreement Between the Defence Ministries of Estonia and Bulgaria on Defence Related Co-operation (signed 20.06.00, in force as of signing);
- Agreement on the Abolishment of Visa Requirements (came into force 8.11.03);
- Agreement on Readmission of Persons (came into force 8.11.03);
- Culture and Education Co-operation Agreement (signed 1.03.04)
- Agreement for the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information (came into force 19.05.05);
- Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 30.12.2008)
- In addition, numerous of other official agreements have been concluded.
Considering the trade statistics between Bulgaria and Estonia, it is clear that Bulgaria’s relative importance in Estonia’s foreign trade has been small. Prior to Bulgaria’s accession to the EU, trade remained stable at about 0.04% of Estonia’s total trade turnover. As of 2007, the percentage has risen to about 0.1% of total trade turnover.
In 2016 the trade turnover with Bulgaria was 34 million euros, which was 0,1-of total trade.
In 2016 Estonian export to Bulgaria totalled approximately 25 million euros, which was 0,2% of overall exports.
Bulgarian import to Estonia totalled 8,9 million euros, which was 0,07 of overall imports.
Estonia-Bulgaria trade 2013 - 2016 (million EUR)
|Export||Percentage %||Import||Percentage %||Turnover||Balance|
• Main export articles to Bulgaria in 2016: pearls and precious stones, jewellery 46%, machinery and equipment 29% and chemical products 6%.
• Main import articles from Bulgaria in 2016: machinery and equipment 37%, plastics, rubber and articles thereof 18%, textiles and textile articles 9%.
All economic figures originate from the Statistical Office of Estonia
According to Bank of Estonia data, as of June 30, 2016, Estonian direct investments in Bulgaria were worth 34,4 million euros, which is 0,6% of all of Estonia's direct investments abroad. Estonian investors have directed their resources primarily to real estate activity, finance and insurance activities, but also to wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and the food sector, information and communication services and professional, research and technical activity. Bulgaria’s direct investment position in Estonia was 2,3 million euros.
Bulgaria’s popularity as a destination for Estonians has steadily increased. In 2011 approximately 5 000 people travelled to the Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas on direct flights from Tallinn, via Novatours and Fiji Travel travel agencies in Estonia. The number of Estonian tourists travelling to Bulgaria independently has also risen significantly.
According to 2013 statistics, 1 499 Bulgarian tourists were housed in Estonian accommodation establishments. In 2014, Bulgarians' interest in Estonia grew a little and 1 709 tourists were housed. In 2015 1 870 tourists were housed, in 2016 the number increased to 1 896. Bulgaria has also become more and more popular as a destination for Estonian travellers.
Culture and Education
Due to the geographical distance between them, cultural relations between Estonia and Bulgaria have been modest. However, within the past decade, reciprocal interest in each others cultural heritage and in intensifying bilateral contacts has increased.
From the viewpoint of bilateral relations, one important fact that deserves mentioning is that 30 years ago the Bulgarian language began to be taught in Estonia. The seeds for this were sown by translator and pedagogue Lubomir Zanev, who in 1981 began teaching Bulgarian at what was then Tallinn Pedagogical University. Today it is possible to study Bulgarian as an elective in the Slavic Languages and Cultures Institute at Tallinn University.
Estonian literature, including childrens’ books, has been translated into Bulgarian fairly extensively in the past. Eno Raud’s “Naksitrallid” is very well-known and loved among schoolchildren in Bulgaria. Estonian poetry has recently been translated by Zdravko Kissiov (Kaplinski, Traat, Puu, and others), and in 2009 the President of the Republic recognised Kissiov's work with the Order of the Cross of Terra Marianna 4th class. Another prolific translator of Estonian literature is Dora Janeva-Mednikova, who has in recent years put the works of Anton Hansen-Tammsaare, Betti Alver, and Erni Krusten into Bulgarian. In June of 2008 an “Estonian poetry wall” was opened at 5 Serdika Street in downtown Sofia with a Jaan Kaplinski poem in Estonian, Bulgarian and English. It is part of the joint project of EU embassies located in Sofia and EU candidate states called “Wall-to-Wall Poetry”, with the goal of introducing Europe’s values and bringing them closer to people.
Estonian artists have participated in triennials and biennials occurring in Bulgaria. In 2010 contemporary Estonian architecture and urban design were introduced during Sofia Architecture Week. Estonian photography has been well received. At the initiative of the Plovdiv Photography Centre, the portrait photos of Toomas Volkmann were exhibited at the international photo exhibit “International Meetings of Photography” in October of 2010.
Estonian films have consistently been represented at the Nordic film festival “Nordic Lights” which takes place in April. In June of 2011, director Jaak Kilmi introduced Estonia’s new documentary filmmaking at the Red House in Sofia. The film “Georg” was screened in July 2011 at the “Europe Cinema Review” Film Festival. In cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the Finnish and Hungarian embassies and the Hungarian Cultural Institute, a joint exhibit by four Finno-Ugric artists became a reality in the summer of 2011. Estonia was represented by the printmaking of Jüri Arrak and the paintings of Ivi Arrak.
In the late fall of 2010 the Estonian National Museum’s glove/mitten exhibit “Käevarjud” was met with great interest and a warm reception; it was supplemented by a display of socks from the collection of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies.
Various musical gropus from Bulgaria have participated at various festivals in Estonia, including Viljandi Folk, Paide Shanty, the Credo Festival of Orthodox Music, and the Keila Folkdance Festival. Bulgarian films have also been shown at the Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF).
Bulgaria and Estonia have many friendship cities, for example Gorna Orjahhovitsa and Narva, Smolyan and Võru, and Kurbat and Türi (partner cities).
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