The Dutch - Estonian relations are characterized by a common understanding of the European values and the contribution to ensuring the North Atlantic security area, which create a solid ground for close, harmonious, and mutually beneficial cooperation. Over the last few years the cooperation between the Netherlands and Estonia has especially intensified in 3 areas: defense, cyber, and IT.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands recognised the Republic of Estonia on 5 March 1921. After the Estonian restored independence the Netherlands re-recognised the Republic of Estonia on 2 September 1991. Diplomatic relations were restored on 21 September 1991.
The Estonian Ambassador to the Netherlands is Kaili Terras who presented her credentials on September 6th, 2017. Previous Ambassador Peep Jahilo served in the Hague during June 2012 - June 2017. The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Estonia is Karen van Stegeren, who presented her credentials on September 7th, 2016.
Estonia has four acting honorary consuls in the Netherlands. Honorary Consul Jan Brouwer resides in Rotterdam, Nicolaas van de Griendt in Zwolle, Marcel van den Heuvel in Amsterdam, and Theodoor Willebrord (Wibo) Aris at the overseas territory (Antilles and Aruba) on Curaçao.
There is also a Dutch parliamentary group in Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu).
The Netherlands represent Estonia on visa issues in six locations (Kenya, Jordan, Suriname, Oman, Aruba, Curacao) according to the bilateral agreement on visa representation for issuing Schengen visas that was concluded in 2008. Estonia represents the Netherlands in Pskov, Russia.
To the Netherlands
|June 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|April 2016||Commander of Estonian Defence Forces General Riho Terras|
|April 2015||Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus at Global Cyber Conference, meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister|
|December 2014||Minister of Defence Sven Mikser|
|August 2013||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|November 2012||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|December 2011||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the Conference for Internet Freedom|
|December 2010||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|October 2009||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|June 2007||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves meeting with the Queen Beatrix|
|September 2015||Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert|
|February 2015||Foreign Minister Bert Koenders at the meeting of Baltic and Benelux States foreign ministers|
|October 2014||Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert|
|April 2014||Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference in Tallinn|
|April 2010||Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Tallinn|
|March 2010||Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen|
|August 2009||Speaker of the Parliament Gerdi Verbeet|
|October 2008||Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen at the meeting of Baltic and Belenlux States foreign ministers|
|May 2008||Queen Beatrix state visit|
Dutch - Estonian defence cooperation is active both bilaterally and within NATO. Estonia highly appreciates the military training opportunities provided by the Netherlands within the framework of different courses, exercises and visits. The Dutch Ministry of Defence has offered policy training courses to Estonian officers and officials at the International Staff Officers Orientation Courses, and also at the Belgian-Dutch mine disarming school EGUERIM. The Netherlands have supported the Baltic Defence College both through financial aid and by sending a lecturer to the school.
Estonia has procured and continues to procure various military hardware from the Netherlands. Since 2004 Estonia has purchased over 11,000 trucks and off-road vehicles, about 500 towed vehicles and staff trailers and 81 SISU XA-188 armored personnel carriers. During the Dutch Defence Minister's visit to Tallinn on October 1, 2014 a bilateral letter of intent related to the introduction of the CV90 infantry fighting vehicles in Estonian defense forces was signed. According to the document, the defense forces of the two countries will exchange information about the training, tactics, ammunition used by, and training grounds of mechanised units. On October 1, 2014 a letter of intent was signed on the procurement of 44 CV90 infantry combat vehicles and support hardware from the Netherlands. The deliveries will be made during 2016. Dutch troops with CV90 infantry fighting vehicles participated in the Estonian Independence Day military parade (February 2015) and at a joint training exercise with the Estonian Scouts Battalion.
Dutch F-16 planes have participated in NATO's air policing mission protecting the Baltic airspace (2005). Since September 2014 until the end of the year, five Dutch fighter jets are supporting the NATO's Baltic States air policing mission from the Malbork Air Force Base in Poland. A Dutch Naval group consisting of a submarine, a frigate, a patrol ship and two support vessels will visit Estonia in the second half of October (2014).
At the NATO summit in Wales (Sept 2014) a letter of intent between Estonia, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands was signed in order to create a rapid reaction force, the so-called "joint expeditionary force". The force will incorporate ground, seaborne and airborne units. It will hold military operations to defend allies and react to natural calamities and humanitarian crises. It also enables Estonia to carry on close cooperation with our allies from the ISAF operation in southern Afghanistan.
During past decade, the Netherlands has steadily been among Estonia’s top ten trade partners (8-9th place). In 2016 the Netherlands positioned on 8th place. Trade turnover was 1.178 billion euros, which was 4.6% of Estonia’s total foreign trade volume (compared to 1,1 million euros the year before). The imports from the Netherlands have continuously exceeded the exports to the Netherlands, causing the trade deficit to grow. By the end of 2016 the trade deficit had reached 518 million euros.
Trade figures 2005-2016 (million EUR):
|Year||Export||% of total export||Import||% of total import|
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
Major export articles in 2016:
- Mineral products - 30,6%
- Wood and articles of wood - 14,7%
- Other manufactured articles (incl furniture) - 8,7%
- Machinery and equipment – 8,4%
Major import articles in 2016:
- Machinery and equipment - 49,3%
- Chemical products – 8,6%
- Transport equipment - 8,2%
- Vegetable products - 7,3%
According to Bank of Estonia, as of 31 December 2016 direct investments from the Netherlands totalled 1.7 billion euros , which equals ca 10% of all direct investments (FDI) made in Estonia. Netherlands has continuously been the third largest foreign investor in Estonia, after Sweden and Finland. Dutch investments have mainly been allocated into Estonia’s transport and inventory sector (28% of investments), real estate (18%), and professional, research and technical activities (11%).
According to the Estonian Business Register, there were around 315 100% or partially Dutch capital-based companies registered in Estonia as of April 1, 2015. The biggest Dutch companies in Estonia are Maxima Eesti OÜ, Alexela Logistics, Adven Eesti, Repo Vabrikud, Kunda Nordic Tsement, Starman, Tallinna Vesi. Some of these companies are not of Dutch origin, but have their headquarters registered in the Netherlands.
As of 31 December 2016, Estonian direct investments in the Netherlands totalled 221 million euros, which makes up 3.9% of all Estonia's direct investments abroad. Investments have primarily gone to professional, research, and technical activity; financial and insurance activity; wholesale and retail trade; electrical energy supply; transport and inventory; information and communication; and real estate.
Due to increasing interest of Estonian companies in the Netherlands, Enterprise Estonia (EAS) opened its Representative Office in the Netherlands (near Rotterdam) in 2014, which is manned by an export adviser (Thijs de Neeve).
Estonia was visited by around 50 000 tourists from the Netherlands in 2016, which is an increase of 5000 compared to the year before. The average Dutch tourist spent a little more than 3 days in Estonia. The number of Dutch tourists visiting Estonia doubled during the years of 2010-2013 from 25 000 to nearly 50 000.
Record number of 70 000 Estonian tourists visited the Netherlands in 2016. In 2015 the number was around 69 000. Average stay in the Netherlands lasted appr 2,8 days. The number of Estonians visiting the Netherlands has for many years exceeded the amount of Dutch tourists visitiing Estonia.
Source: Bank of Estonia
Cultural & education-related co-operation
Cultural relations between Estonia and the Netherlands are active and function mainly through direct contacts.
In recent years, several books about Estonian history as well as fiction have been published in the Netherlands:
- In 2012, a first comprehensive survey about the Estonian history was published in Dutch, the author of which is Professor Cornelius Hasselblad. The work is titled "Ice Age-to-Skype" ("Van Ijstijd tot Skype").
- In 2008, "Dutch-Estonian Relations between the Two World Wars 1918-1940" by Onno Bus and John de Jonge appeared.
- In 2009, Sofi Oksanen's "Purge" was published in Dutch.
Estonian musicians are welcomed guests in the Netherlands. For example, famous Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi was a guest conductor of the Hague Symphony Orchestra Residentie Orkester from 2006 to 2012. He contributed significantly to raising the visibility of Estonian culture and music traditions in the Netherlands. Estonian mixed choir Noorus (Youth) performed in several Dutch cities in September 2014 in the framework of the international choir festival Tonen. Estonian long-term singing tradition was particularly highlighted at the opening concert of the festival, which saw a full house of listeners. In 2012, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) and Philharmonic Chamber Choir gave a joint concert in Groningen and the popgroup "Ewert & Two Dragons" toured in five Dutch cities. In January 2013, "Ewert & Two Dragons" was awarded with the European Music Prize in Groningen.
Estonian feature movie "Ma ei tule tagasi" (I won't Come Back) by Ilmar Raag won a first prize at the Vlissingen Film Festival "Films by the Sea" in September 2014. Estonian films "Kertu" and "Cherry Tobacco" were screened as well.
In 2007 an Estonian School was registered in the Netherlands. There are about 40 children that participate in the instruction that takes place once a month. In addition, Estonian language classes take place for others who are interested in learning Estonian.
On an academic level, there is close working relationship between the universities of Groningen in the Netherlands and Tartu in Estonia. There exists an agreement of exchanginig the students within the Erasmus programme. Until 2013 it was possible to study Estonian at Groningen University, which was the only one in the Netherlands providing Estonian studies at academic level. In Estonia it is possible to study Dutch in the language centres of both Tartu and Tallinn University.
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