Italy recognised the Republic of Estonia on 26 January 1921. The first Italian Ambassador to Estonia was Agostino Depretis, who presented his credentials in February 1921. Before World War II, Italy's Institute of Culture was active in Estonia. Historian Indro Montanelli, a grand figure in the Italian press, headed it.
In June 1921, Estonia's first diplomatic representative in Italy, Karl Robert Pusta, residing in Paris, presented his credentials. The first Estonian Ambassador to reside in Rome was Karl Tofer (1927-1931). In addition to the legation in Rome, Estonia had Honorary Consulates in Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo and Trieste.
Italy re-recognised Estonia on 27 August 1991. Diplomatic relations between Estonia and Italy were restored on 31 August 1991. Italy's first Ambassador to the restored Republic of Estonia was Carlo Siano (1991-1996). The other representatives of Italy in Estonia have been ambassadors Roberto Martini (1996-1999), Luchino Cortese (1999-2002), Ruggero Vozzi (2002-2005), Fabrizio Piaggesi (2005-2009), Rosa Maria Chicco Ferraro (2009-2012) and Marco Clemente (2012-2016). The current Italian Ambassador Filippo Formica presented his credentials to President Kersti Kaljulaid on 20 December 2016.
Estonia's Embassy in Rome resumed work in September 1996, led by Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Ruth Lausma. In September 1998, Estonia's first ambassador since the restoration of the Republic Jaak Jõerüüt presented his credentials. After that Estonia was represented from 2002-2006 by Jüri Seilenthal, from 2006-2010 by Andres Tomasberg and from 2010-2014 by Merike Kokajev. The current ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk presented her credentials to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on 27 September 2014.
Estonia is also represented in Italy by six honorary consuls: Luigi Cecchini in Florence, Eugenio Kielland in Genoa, Giuseppe Barranco di Valdivieso in Milan, Gaspare Panfalone in Trapani (Sicily), Piero Bettini in Venice, and Giuseppe Iazeolla in Bari.
In 1993, the first Italian-Estonian parliamentary group was established in Riigikogu, the Parliament of Estonia.
|May 2017||Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna|
|May 2017||Minister of Culture Indrek Saar for the opening of the Estonian Pavilion at the 57. Venice Biennale|
|May 2017||President Kersti Kaljulaid at the conference “The State of the Union” in Florence|
|June 2015||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves for the opening of the Estonian National Day at Milan EXPO; Minister of Culture Indrek Saar as part of the delegation|
|June 2015||Minister of Culture Indrek Saar at the Venice Biennale|
|June 2015||Minister of Entrepreneurship Urve Palo for tourism days at the Estonian Pavilion of Milan EXPO|
|April 2014||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|February 2014||Minister of the Interior Ken-Marti Vaher|
|January 2014||Speaker of Parliament Ene Ergma|
|May-June 2013||Minister of Cultural Affairs Rein Lang for the Venice Architecture Biennale|
|February 2013||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Rome for meeting of Baltic foreign ministers with US Secretary of State John Kerry|
|October 2012||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|August 2012||Minister of Cultural Affairs Rein Lang for the Venice Architecture Biennale|
|June 2011||Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder|
|June 2011||Speaker of Parliament Ene Ergma|
|June 2011||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|July 2009||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|April 2006||Chief justice of the Supreme Court of Estonia Märt Rask|
|November 2005||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|November 2002||President Arnold Rüütel|
|June 2001||Minister of Economic Affairs Mihkel Pärnoja accompanied by the Estonian business mission|
|April 2001||Prime Minister Mart Laar|
|June 2017||Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and European Affairs committees of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Fabrizio Cicchitto|
|October 2013||Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi|
|April 2010||Foreign Minister Franco Frattini|
|September 2009||Foreign Minister Franco Frattini|
|January and March 2009||Deputy Foreign Minister Sen.Alfredo Mantica|
|September||Commander of the Defence Forces Giampaolo Di Paola|
|September 2005||Deputy Trade Minister Adolfo Urso|
|April 2004||President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi|
|March 2004||Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini|
|May 2003||Minister for European Policies Rocco Buttiglione and Minister of Labour, Health and Social Welfare Roberto Maroni|
|April 2003||Minister of Defence Antonio Martino|
|April 2003||Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Pietro Lunardi|
|November 2002||Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Antonione|
In addition, the Italy-Baltic parliamentary friendship group visited Estonia in April 2012 and Riigikogu’s Estonia-Italy friendship group visited Rome in December 2012 to meet with the defence and foreign relations commissions of the lower house of the Italian parliament.
Before World War II, two agreements existed between Estonia and Italy: a provisional trade agreement (came into force 27 Feb 1929), and the agreement on the extradition of persons and court assistance in criminal cases (came into force 1 Mar 1938).
Currently the following bilateral agreements are in effect between Estonia and Italy:
- Agreement on Co-operation in the Field of Tourism (came into force 7 Oct 1998);
- Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements (came into force 8 Feb 1999);
- Agreement on Readmission of Persons (came into force 3 Mar 1999);
- Agreement on Mutual Regulation of International Road Transport of Passengers and Freight (came into force 26 Jan 2000);
- Agreement on Cultural, Educational, Scientific and Technological Co-operation (came into force 30 Jan 2000);
- Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income (came into force 22 Feb 2000);
- Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 9 May 2000);
- Agreement Concerning Co-operation in the Field of Defence (came into force 9 Feb 2001);
- Agreement on Mutual Protection of Classified Information (came into force 8 Mar 2001).
- Co-operation agreement against organised crime, terrorism and the illegal drug trade (signed 08.09.2009)
In addition, there also exists a joint declaration on the strengthening of co-operation between the foreign ministries of Estonia and Italy (signed 18 March 2009).
Since Spring 2017 Italy is covered by defence attaché lieutenant colonel Mark Trubok, who resides in Berlin. The Italian defence attaché in Estonia is colonel Davide Di Bartolo, who resides in Warsaw.
Italy participated in the NATO Baltic air policing mission for the first time from January to April 2015 from Šiauliai, Lithuania. Italy is one of the founding members of the NATO Cyber Defence Centre and contributes to the centre’s work with one training and doctrine expert and one legal expert.
Contacts with Italy’s defence structures began in 1995. A defence co-operation agreement was signed in 1998 and became effective on February 2001. Co-operation related to peacekeeping has been very good, as Estonian peacekeepers served together with Italian carabinieri from November 1999 to December 2006 within the NATO KFOR Multinational Support Unit in Kosovo.
Many reciprocal visits have taken place. In January 2014, while on a visit to Italy, the Undersecretary for Defence Investments Ingvar Pärnamäe signed a memorandum of understanding concerning cooperation with his Italian colleague General Enzo Stefanini, which will make it easier for Estonia to order from the Italian defence industry.In June 2013 the Italian Director National for Armaments of the Ministry of Defence Gen. Claudio De Bertolis visited Estonia. In May 2011 Undersecretary for Defence Planning of the Ministry of Defence Lauri Tumm was in Rome and Chief of Staff of the Italian Army Lieutenant General Giuseppe Valotto was in Estonia. In June 2011 four cadets from the Higher Military Academy participated in the military parade dedicated to the 105th anniversary of the Republic of Italy.
In June 2011 45 Italian officers were also in Estonia for a study visit, during which they visited the Riigikogu, the International Centre for Defence Studies, the Ministry of Defence, and the Cyber Defence Centre.
In March of 2010 the Estonian Aviation Museum received a gift from the Italian Air Force – a fighter F-104S ASA Starfighter.
In 2016, contacts were established with many professional associations, and communication with regional institutions and business organisations increased. The embassy has, in cooperation with local unions and organisations, arranged events to introduce Estonia. During the past few years, multiple business seminars and trips have taken place to enliven economic relations between the two countries. Estonia’s participation in the Milan EXPO 2015 presented an excellent opportunity to strengthen economic ties.
For the past years, Italy has been Estonia's 14th to 15th trading partner and trade with Italy has made up around 1,8% of Estonia’s total trade. Estonian exports to Italy have gradually decreased and currently stand for less than 1% of the country’s total exports. Imports from Italy have grown slightly.
Estonia-Italy trade 2006-2014 (in millions EUR):
All economic figures originate from the Statistics Estonia
Machines and equipment are the main items of both export and import. In the case of export, these are mainly phones, electronic components, electric motors and generators and transformers as well as sound and visual signal devices. Other notable exports include paper pulp and cardboard, firewood, solid fuels, densified wood, veneer and profiled wood in addition to cheese and fish products, printed circuit boards and wooden houses.
From Italy, Estonia imports workbenches, taps and pumps, aluminium wire, pipe junctions and hollow sections and naturally the products of Italian clothing manufacturers.
Estonia's main export articles in to Italy 2014:
- Machinery and equipment – 34.4%
- Wood and wood products – 17.1%
- Paper pulp and paper products – 10.6%
- Live animals and animal products – 9,3%
Estonia's main import articles to Italy in 2014:
- Machinery and equipment – 23.3%
- Metal and metal products – 13.2%
- Vehicles – 12.3%
- Textiles and textile products – 12.1%
According to the Bank of Estonia, as of 30.06.2016, 0.6% of Estonia’s foreign direct investment came from Italy in the total amount of 112.7 million euros. Most of the investments were directed to professional, scientific and technical activities (41%), real estate (25%) and finance and insurance activities (10%).
As of 13.04.2016, 340 Estonian enterprises with Italian co-ownership were registered in the Estonian Business Register.
Estonia's foreign direct investments in Italy amounted to 101.5 million euros as of the same date, which represented 1,8% of all total investments in foreign countries. The main sectors were: the manufacturing industry, wholesale and retail trade activities,hospitality and catering, real estate and professional, scientific and technical activities.
Estonia’s accession to the European Union in 2004 provided a strong impetus for the increase of tourism – the number of Italian tourists accommodated in Estonia in that year grew by 95% and in 2005 by 100% (over 26,700) compared to previous years. A new growth in the number of Spanish tourists came in 2011, when Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture. The number of accommodated tourists in that year was 33,618. In 2012, 30,574 Italian tourists were accommodated in Estonia, in 2013 that number was 26 506 and in 2014 26 968. In addition to Tallinn, tourists from Italy were also particularly interested in the counties of Tartumaa and Pärnumaa.
Estonia is known as a pleasant destination as it has been presented in Italian media on multiple occasions. Tallinn is also an important port for cruise ships on the Baltic Sea. More flights between Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport and Italy would certainly help improve tourism opportunities.
In 2015, 68,745 Italian tourists were accommodated in Estonia, in 2016 that number was 70 874. In addition to Tallinn, tourists from Italy were also particularly interested in the counties of Tartumaa and Pärnumaa.
Culture and Education
In May 1997, Estonia and Italy signed a culture, education, science and technology related agreement that came into force in June 2002. This is a general framework agreement meant to develop and put into practice activities that will help to improve mutually understanding of each other’s cultural heritage while fostering cultural, education, science and technology related co-operation between the two countries.
Within the framework of the same agreement, Estonian and Italian representatives signed a four-year co-operation programme for the years 2004-2008 to bring Italian scholars, students and cultural figures to Estonia and facilitated the culture, education, science and technology-related co-operation. This programme supported the translation of literature and co-operation between library, archive and heritage conservation workers. Both countries support the co-operation of culture and art institutions by offering research scholarships for research, language and literature studies and cultural research.
In Estonia, Italian philology is taught at Tallinn University, and Italian as a secondary subject at the University of Tartu or at various language schools.
Thanks to the scholarships of the Italian Foreign Ministry and activities of the Italian Embassy in Tallinn, a great number of Estonian students and graduate students have been able to study in Italy.
The Dante Alighieri Society (DAS) in Estonia was re-established in 1999. The society’s members include individuals from different fields across Estonia who are interested in the Italian language and culture. The society organizes language and cooking lessons as well as film nights and literary lectures.
CULTURAL EVENTS 2016
Cultural cooperation between the Italian Association of Estonia and the Italian embassy is constant and fruitful. The leaders of the association, Ülle Toode and Gianni Glinni, were awarded the citizen diplomacy diplomas of the Estonian Foreign Ministry in 2016 upon the suggestion of the embassy.
The Terre del Nord Nordic Countries Music Festival was held for the 3rd time from Feb 21 to Feb 28, 2016 in Turin. The festival is centered around introducing Nordic music, exhibitions and workshops; Estonian musicians were among the participants.
In cooperation with the Georgian Embassy to the Holy See, the Estonian-Georgian film “Tangerines” premiered in Rome to an audience of around one hundred. The film reached cinemas in May.
In April the Milan design week was held, where Estonia was represented by 15 designers with 2 exhibitions, the Estonian Design House with its new collection and the Estonian Association of Designers with their project “Human Cities”.
On May 27 at the 15. International Venice Architecture Biennale the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian joint exhibition, “The Baltic Pavilion”, was opened. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Culture, Indrek Saar.
The most significant Estonian culture event in the second half of the year was the presenting of the Italian edition of Lennart Meri’s “Silverwhite” in Rome on Sep 22 as par tof the IX Travel Literature Festival.
- 31.01-12.02.2015 exhibition of the golden age of Estonian art, “Nordic Colours”, part of Enn Kunila’s collection, and the introduction of the EXPO pavilion in the Vittoriano museum in Rome
- Bologna book fair 30.03-02.04.2015 - two Estonian children’s books were selected as the 100 best books published in the world in 2014
- Bologna animation festival Future Film Festival 5.05-10.05.2015 - Priit and Olga Pärn took part in the 17th animation film festival with their program “Focus on Estonia”.
- As the result of cooperation between the Estonian Association of Designers and the British PR organization Designersblock, many Estonian designers participated in the Milan design week in April 2015.
- At the 56th Venice Art Biennale in 2015 Jaanus Samma/Eugenio Viola participated with their project “NSFW. The Story of the Chairman”.
- In February 2014, Anatali Strakhov’s exhibition was opened in Bari and in April Tiina Ojaste’s personal exhibition “Pearls of Estonia” in Rome.
- In June 2014, Arne Maasik’s personal exhibition “Given space” was displayed at the Vittoriano complex in Rome.
- Also in June 2014, Nikolai Kormashov’s exhibition “Setumaa” was open in Matera, Southern Italy, and in the former monastery of San Giovanni Jaan Pärn’s jewellery exhibition “Amber Chamber II” along with Vilve Unt’s clothes sets based on ethnographical studies and decorated with Kär Summatavet’s jewellery were open for visitors.
- In December 2015, the pianist Mihkel Poll played in Rome at the finale of the music festival Nuova Consonanza with the programme “Portrait Estonia”. The finale concert was preceded by a meeting with the composer Toivo Tulev, who taught a composition seminar as part of the festival.
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