The close and ties between Estonia and Latvia are based on their historic and cultural connections, similar foreign policy goals, and their increasingly developing trade and tourism relations.
For the first time Estonia and Latvia exchanged diplomatic representatives already in December 1918. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored on 6 September 1991.
Tõnis Nirk is the current Estonian Ambassador to Latvia, having presented his credentials to Latvian President Andris Bērziņš on 2 September 2014. The Embassy of Latvia in Tallinn is headed by the ambassador Raimonds Jansons since 8 June 2017.
Significant Visits and Meetings
|August 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|July 2017||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|June 2017||Foreign Minister Sven Mikser|
|February 2017||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|December 2016||Foreign Minister Sven Mikser|
|December 2016||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|October 2016||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|October 2016||Foreign Minister Jürgen Ligi|
|August 2016||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|July 2016||President Toomas Hendrik-Ilves|
|April 2016||Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand|
|February 2016||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|November 2015||President Toomas Hendrik-Ilves|
|November 2015||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|November 2015||Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu|
|October 2015||Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu|
|September 2015||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|August 2015||Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand|
|May 2015||President Toomas Hendrik-Ilves at the presentation of the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian dictionaries|
|May 2015||President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor|
|April 2015||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas on a working visit|
|April 2015||Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus|
|January 2015||President of the riigikogu Eiki Nestor|
|August 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|June 2017||Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs|
|May 2017||Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs for the announcement of the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian translation award|
|May 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|January 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|November 2016||President Raimonds Vējonis|
|July 2016||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis on a working visit|
|March 2016||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis on a working visit|
|July 2015||President Raimonds Vējonis on his first visit after his official appointment|
|July 2015||Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs for the announcement of the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian translation award|
In June of 2007, the Estonian and Latvian Prime Ministers launched the idea for an Estonia-Latvia future co-operation report that would outline development directions in the various fields of co-operation between the two countries. This task was assigned to two rapporteurs: Anvar Samost on the Estonian side and Andris Razans on the Latvian side, who presented their report to Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis on June 11, 2010. Estonia-Latvia Future Co-operation Report (PDF)
Bilateral relations between Estonia and Latvia, primarily economic relations, are regulated by EU internal market rules as of May 1, 2004. The majority of agreements between Estonia and Latvia have been concluded trilaterally between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
An overview of agreements signed between Estonia and Latvia:
- Agreement on the Renewal of the State Border and the Additional Protocol (came into force 13.09.93);
- Agreement on Organising Common Border Control (came into force 30.08.94);
- Agreement on the Activities of Border Representatives (came into force 30.08.94);
- Air Services Agreement (came into force 01.02.96);
- Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (came into force 23.05.96);
- Agreement on the Maritime Delimitation in the Gulf of Riga, the Strait of Irbe and the Baltic Sea (came into force 10.10.96);
- Agreement Regarding Border Points (came into force 21.10.96);
- Agreement on Social Security (came into force 29.01.97);
- Agreement on the Assessment of the Transboundary Effects on the Environment (came into force 14.03.97);
- Agreement on the Transfer of the Right of Use of a Plot (came into force 28.06.99);
- Framework Agreement on Mutual Assistance in the Event of Disasters (came into force 19.06.02);
- Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 21.11.02);
- Agreement on Railroad Transport (came into force 16.05.04);
- Agreement on the Terms of the Use and Maintenance of the Valga1/Valka2 Joint Border Crossing Point (came into force 21.05.04);
- Agreement on mutually storing crude oil and oil products (came into force 06.08.09);
- Agreement of the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information (came into force 20.07.11).
According to the latest data, Latvia remains among Estonia’s five main cooperation partners, being a steadily growing export market for our products, as well as services. Latvia was the third trade partner with Estonia at 8.8%. The export of Estonian goods to Latvia amounted to 47%.
In 2016, the import of Latvian products to Estonia amounted to 8,4% of total imports ( the fourth import partner for Estonia).
The Latvian-Estonian trade balance was negative during 2008-2011, but began to even out in 2012. While in 2015 the bilateral trade showed a positive balance of 59 million euros, it declined again in 2016.
Estonia-Latvia trade 2012-2016 (in millions of EUR)
|Year||Turnover||Export||Percentage of total export %||Import||Percentage of total import %|
All economic figures originate from the Statistical Office of Estonia
Main export articles to Latvia in 2016:
- Mineral products - 17.3%
- Machinery and mechanical equipment - 14.5%
- Transport vehicles - 13.2%
- Wood and wood products - 7.6%
Main import articles from Latvia in 2016:
- Machinery and equipment - 21.7%
- Chemical products - 8.7%
- Wood and wood products - 8,7%
- Prepared food products and beverages - 9.3%
As of December 31, 2016 Estonian companies had invested 1.2 billion euros in Latvia, which makes up 18.9% of all direct investments made in foreign countries. At the same time Latvian direct investments in Estonia made up 3.4% of direct investments in Estonia, with a total value of 617 million euros.
On April 18, 2007 the estonian Business Chamber in Latvia (http://www.eesti.lv) was opened in Riga. It has been the first association established of Estonian companies and enterpreneurs abroad investors in their activities.
Cooperation between local governments on the Estonian and Latvian border has been functioning for years. In 2004, the Estonian Latvian intergovernmental commission was established to further enhance the cross-border co-operation. In the framework of the commission four working groups were formed and rasked to prepare a cross-border cooperation strategy which would enable to develope Estonian-Latvian co-operation within EU border cooperation programmes, to create a favourable environment for enterprise in the border regions and facilitate the border-crossing procedure.
The four working groups focus on the following areas: social and medical services; transport, energy and environmental protection; education, tourism and sports; and the transport and taxation of people working across the border.
The last meeting of the Estonia-Latvia intergovernmental commission took place on 10 March 2017 in Smiltene. The publich health and health-related public services, taxation, rail traffic and land roads continue to remain important topics for the cross-border co-operation.
The European Union also supports co-operation between border areas through territorial co-operation programmes. The Estonia-Latvia Programme 2012-2020 will receive 38 MEUR from the European Regional Development Fund to initiate joint projects in the focus areas entrepreneurship, heritage, tourism, environmental awareness, water management, small harbours, labor commuters, Valga-Valka center (http://www.estlat.eu).
The defence co-operation takes place in the so-called Baltic format (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), based on the agreement concluded by the defence minister on February 12, 1995.
Trilaterally several joint projects have been initiated, of which some have continued until the present and some have been terminated upon the achievement of their goals (BALTBAT, BALTSEA).
At present, the most important cooperation formats are NATO Baltic air policing, BALTDEFCOL, BALTBAT and joint participation in exercises.
Culture and Education
The cultural and educational contacts between close neighbors Estonia and Latvia have been very frequent. Already in the 19th century some of Estonia’s future statesmen and intellectuals were educated at the Seminary of Janis Cimze, the Higher Technical School of Riga and the Ecclesiastical Seminary of Riga. In recent days this kind of cross-border study contacts have been advanced thanks
to the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Documents Certifying Higher Education signed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2000. The Stockholm School of Economics in Riga has developed into one of the most popular educational institutions for Estonians.
Approximately 2 300 ethnic Estonians live currently in Latvia. Cross-border economic activities have added several thousand Estonians to that niche, as they reside in Estonia but spend most of their working hours in Latvia. There is also an Estonian-Latvian Institute in Valga, which among other activities also teaches the Latvian language. In close co-operation, Estonian and Latvian language experts has composed a new Latvian-Estonian and Estonian-Latvian dictionary. At the presentation of the dictionary on 11 May 2015 in Riga were also the presidents of both countries, Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Andris Berzinš.
The Latvian Estonian Society was restored in 1988 as the legal successor to the Estonian Society of Education and Assistance, which was established in Riga in 1908. The Riga Estonian School restarted its work in 1989 and currently offers education as the secondary school to 170 students. The school, which is financed by the Latvian state, conducts most of its studies in Latvian; however, the Estonian language, culture and regional studies are also taught there. Estonia has provided the school with support over the years, mainly in the form of study materials and computers but also by sending Estonian language teachers.
On February 18, 2009, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Latvian Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš signed an agreement establishing the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian translation award. The first award which goal was to emphasize the importance of the Estonian and Latvian languages and of cultural Exchange was given on March 10, 2010 to Latvian translator Maima Grinberga. In 2015, the Estonian and Latvian Foreign Ministers decided to expand the scope of award and signed on July 3, 2015 a new statute governing the contest.
The new statute, enables in addition to translations of literature, also to submit translation of works from other fields, such as politics, science, art, history and sociology. Language teachers and linguists from Estonian and Latvian schools and universities, who have contributed to the promotion of the Estonian and Latvian languages in both countries in the last year can now also be nominated for the award.
On May 12, 2017, Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs announced in Tallinn, as the winner of the Estonian-Latvian language prize livia Viitol, the poetess, translator and literary scienist.
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