Although Estonia and Spain are located in different parts of Europe and may at first glance appear very different, they actually share many common characteristics. Spain consistently supported Estonia’s endeavours to join the EU and NATO. Economic reforms have been quite similar in both countries, insofar as both states have strived to diminish state interference in the economy while expanding the role of the private sector. The keywords are openness, liberalisation and reduction of the tax burden; the preferred areas of development are IT and new technologies.
The Kingdom of Spain recognised the Republic of Estonia on 25 March 1921. Estonia’s first Ambassador to Spain, Karl Robert Pusta, was appointed to the post in 1928 and he resided permanently in Paris. Spain renewed its recognition of the Republic of Estonia on 27 August 1991 and diplomatic relations were restored on 10 September 1991.
Spain opened its embassy in Tallinn in March 2004. The Spanish ambassador to Estonia, Teresa Orjales Vidal, presented her credentials to President Kersti Kaljulaid on March 21 2017.
Estonia opened its Embassy in Madrid in June 1997. As of 6 October 2014, Estonia's Ambassador to Spain is Rasmus Lumi.
Estonia has seven honorary consuls in Spain: Josep Luis Rovira and David Rovira in the region of Catalonia (Barcelona), Fernando Franco Fernàndez in the region of Andalusia (Seville), Sergio Tadeo Benitez in the Canary Islands, José Vicente Morata Estragués in Valencia, Tomás Antón Lorca in Galicia (Ferrol) and Isidoro Alejandro Beltrán de Heredia Dreyfus in the Basque Country.
The first Spain-Estonia friendship group was created in the Parliament of Estonia in 1994. The currently elected members of parliament formed the Spain-Estonia friendship group in April 2011 and elected Remo Holsmer as Chairman.
|June 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|January 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser at the Second Union of the Mediterranean Regional Forum in Barcelona; as well as meeting with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis|
|November 2015||Defence Minister Hannes Hanso on a visit. Participated in the NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2015 DV Day and met with Spain's Defence Minister Pedro Morenés Eluate.|
|Aprill 2015||Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus at a Southern Partnership meeting in Barcelona|
|September 2014||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on a working visit|
|December 2009||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on a working visit|
|February 2009||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on an official visit|
|July 2007||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a state visit, with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Cultural Minister Laine Jänes in the delegation|
|October 2006||Minister of Agriculture Ester Tuiksoo|
|February 2004||Prime Minister Juhan Parts participated in a summit of the Right Wing and Christian Democrat Parties Alliance leaders, within the framework of which he met with Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|June 2002||President of the Riigikogu Toomas Savi participated in a conference of the EU and candidate countries’ parliament leaders|
|February 2000||Prime Minister Mart Laar participated in a forum of conservative parties in Madrid entitled “Europa 2010” and met with Prime Minister José María Aznar|
|November 1998||President Lennart Meri opened the Estonian Embassy in Madrid and met with Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|April 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfonso Dastis on a visit to Estonia|
|February 2015||Minister of Defence Pedro Morenés Eulate|
|October 2013||Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel García-Margallo|
|June 2011||State Secretary for EU Affairs Diego López Garrido|
|May 2009||King of Spain Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia on a state visit, with Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in the delegation|
|September 2006||Minister of Defence José Antonio Alonso Suįrez|
|July 2006||State Secretary for the European Union Affairs Alberto Navarro Gonzàlez|
|May 2006||Speaker of the Upper Chamber of the Spanish Parliament Javier Rojo|
|May 2006||Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos|
|September 2003||State Secretary for EU Affairs Ramón de Miguel Egea|
|September 2001||Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|April 2001||Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Piqué i Camps|
The following agreements have been signed between Estonia and Spain:
- Agreement on International Road Transport (came into force 24.11.97);
- Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 01.07.98);
- Protocol for Co-operation between the ministries of defence (came into force 24.11.1999);
- Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements (came into force 30.01.00);
- Agreement on the Readmission of Individuals (came into force 07.02.00);
- Agreement on Extradition of Criminals (came into force 07.02.00);
- Agreement on the avoidance of Double Taxation (came into force 01.01.05);
- Agreement on the protection of classified information (came into force 26.01.2007);
- Agreement on co-operation in culture and education (came into force 07.11.2007);
- Agreement on visa representation between Estonia and Spain (came into force 29.04.2009);
- Joint declaration for strengthening co-operation between the foreign ministries (04.05.2009).
- Agreement to amend the agreement on the protection of classified information (came into force 14.01.2011);
In May 2017, Spain took over the role of policing Baltic airspace from Ämari, Estonia. Spain participated in strengthening the Baltic Air Policing Mission from January to April 2015 from Ämari Air Base in Estonia and in the regular rotation in Šiauliai from January to April in 2016. Spain was deployed in the Baltic air surveillance rotation in 2006 as well.
Spain is one of the founding members of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre in Estonia and two experts from Spain (one soldier and one civilian specialist) began working at the centre in August of 2008.
A Baltic-Spain security and defence policy seminar was held for the first time in 2009 in Riga, then in Madrid in February of 2013, and in Riga in May of 2015.
Spain has appointed a defence attaché to Estonia, who resides in Warsaw. No defence attaché has been appointed by Estonia at present.
Estonia-Spain trade 2007-2015 (millions of euros):
*Import according to sending nation
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
In 2016 Spain was Estonia’s 18th largest trade partner, making up 1,1% of Estonia’s total trade.
Estonia’s main exports to Spain are machinery and equipment, timber and wood products, plant products, vehicles, means of transportation and chemical products.
Estonia’s main imports from Spain include vehicles, means of transportation, ready-made food and drink, textile products, machinery and equipment and plant products.
The major articles of export to Spain in 2015 were:
- machinery and equipment – 54.3%
- wood and wood products – 8%
- plant products – 7,7%
- vehicles, means of transportation – 5,6%
- chemical products – 5,6%
The most frequent articles of import from Spain in 2015 were:
- vehicles, means of transportation – 32,5%
- ready-made food and drinks – 15.4%
- textile products – 11.3%
- machinery and equipment – 10,3%
- plant products – 8,2%
|Direct investments from Spain 2007-2015 (millions of euros)|
Source: Bank of Estonia
As of 31.12.2016, Spanish direct investments to Estonia amounted to 60.5 million euros.
The main targets of investments were manufacturing, finance and insurance, wholesale and retail trade and real estate. The largest enterprise in Estonia with Spanish ownership is Fersa Energias Renovables SA; in the tourism sector one of the largest investments
Spanish direct investments in Estonia represent approximately 0.2% of all direct investments to Estonia. Most of the investments were in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing and real estate. The largest Spanish-owned company in Estonia is Fersa Energias Renovables SA. One of the biggest investments by Spain is Marbella Club Hotel SA in the tourism sector, which was bought by the Schlössle Hotel Group AS.
Estonian businesses invested 54.2 million euros in Spain in 2010, 56.9 million euros in 2011, 60.2 million euros in 2012, 63.7 mln euros in 2013, 89.8 mln euros in 2014, and 77.6 million euros in 2015. By the end of 2016, Estonian investments in Spain amounted to 82.2 million euros. The greatest investments were in real estate.
Spain remains a popular destination for Estonian tourists, although better flight connections would certainly help improve this. Up until 2011, the number of tourists increased continuously thanks to Estonian Air’s direct flight to Barcelona. Currently, Ryanair offers direct flights between Estonia and Spain, operating seasonal flights between Tallinn and Girona. Starting in the summer of 2014, the Spanish discount airline Vueling began operating direct flights between Tallinn and Barcelona.
According to Statistics Estonia, the number of Spanish tourists in Estonia is growing consistently, probably as the result of Spanish economic growth as well as interest in new, historically exciting and safe destinations. In 2016, 31,342 Spanish tourists stayed in Estonia, compared to 27,665 in 2016 and 25,929 in 2014. Naturally, Estonia’s accession to the European Union in 2004 provided a strong impetus for the increase of tourism – the number of Spanish tourists accommodated in Estonia in that year grew by 54% and in 2005 by 96% (over 15,500 Spaniards) compared to previous years. A new growth in the number of Spanish tourists came in 2011, when Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture.
Estonian and Spanish cultural relations are strong and dynamic. Interest in Spanish language and culture is constantly growing in Estonia. Since 1992, it has been possible to study Spanish language as an entire course of study at Tartu University, and in 2002 it became possible to study Spanish at Tallinn University. Spanish language instruction at both universities was made possible by extremely strong support from the Spanish Embassy. Tartu University has an agreement for exchange of instructors and students in higher courses with Granada University, and student exchange occurs with Oviedo University and Las Palmas University. Many Spanish language instructors have gained experiences in Spain thanks to grants given by Spain. Employees of various government offices have used this opportunity as well. Since 2003, it has been possible to take the DELE (Spanish as a foreign language) exam at Tallinn University. There is an active Spanish language and cultural center, Hispaania Maja (Spanish House), and MTÜ Centro Picasso in Tallinn.
After the opening of the Spanish Embassy in Tallinn (2004), numerous events introducing Spanish culture have taken place in Estonia. There have been multiple art exhibitions, Spanish films have been screened in different theatres, Spanish dance introduced through dance performances, and many different kinds of concerts held. Every spring the Spanish Embassy leads the organising of the Ibero-American Culture Festival "Iberofest" in Estonia. The Estonian Embassy in Madrid works actively to introduce Estonian culture in Spain.
In September 2016 Maarja Nuut held concerts in Tenerife and Madrid. In the same month, Maren Ülevain’s and Maria Bachmann’s concert took place in the hall of Centro Cultural de los Ejércitos in Madrid. They played Schumann, Strauss, Kapp, Saar, Mägi, Sumera, de Falla and García Lorca.
In October the Estonian folk music band Trad.Attack! performed at the most important world music and showcase festival WOMEX in Santiago de Compostela.
- In 2006, the VIII International Folk Singing Competition took place in Barcelona. The Tallinn University Chamber Choir won first place, and Tallinn’s Kaarli Church Concert Choir won second place.
- On 25 February 2008 there was a concert by the Estonian Police Brass Band and soloist Kaire Vilgats in the Petit Palau de la Musicas in Barcelona in honour of the 90th anniversary of Estonia.
- On 28 February 2008 the ETV Girls’ Choir performed in the city government of Madrid’s Conde Duque Cultural Centre.
- On 19 March 2008 the Boys’ Choir of the National Opera Estonia gave a concert in the framework of the Cuenca Religious Music Week.
- In October 2008, the Teet, Mari and Martin Järvi chamber trio gave concerts in Madrid and Seville.
- In March 2012 the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra gave a concert including the works of Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis.
- In July 2013 the Estonian girl’s choir Ellerhein toured Andorra and Spain and gave concerts at the church of the Andorran patron saint Our Lady of Meritxelli, in the town of Vic in Catalonia, and in the conservatories of Madrid and Burgos.
- In September 2013 the violinist Andres Mustonen and the Spanish pianist Alfredo Oyaguez Montero undertook a concert tour entitled “Mustonen is 60!:Crazy Opera and Broadway Musicals”, performing a total of four times in Palma de Mallorca, Deia, and the region of Catalonia.
- In October-November 2013 Tallinn Boys Choir, who was celebrating their 25th anniversary, gave concerts in Tolosa and the Bilbao area and participated in the prestigious European Grand Prix competition in Tolosa.
In 2014, Maren Ülevain and Kristi Mühling performed in May and Mari Järvi and Miina Järvi in September.
In March 2015, Arvo Pärt was the guest of honour in Madrid and Barcelona at the Carta Blanca festival.
In March 2015, the Girls' Choir Kurekell participated at the International Choir Festival "Canta en Primavera" in Malaga, where they were chosen the best youth choir and they took second place in the folklore category. Kurekell also performed at Málaga Cathedral.
In June 2015, Estonian music was performed by Maren Ülevain and Kristi Mühling at the International Music and Dance Festival in Granada.
Musamari Choir School's children's choir won third place an international choir competition in October 2015 in Tolosa, Basque Country.
The music teacher and harpsichordist Karin Madsen cooperates with the Estonian Embassy in Madrid.
- The exhibit Young Spanish Painters was displayed in the Estonia Concert Hall during the 2006-2007 season. The project was initiated by Estonia, in particular Maksim Surin, and was made possible by support from the Spanish Embassy.
- An exhibit of the works of internationally known 20th century Spanish artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) was displayed in KUMU art museum from 14 December 2007 to 9 March 2008. The display included 57 works plus 8 photos.
- From 17 June to 30 July 2008, an exhibit of the paintings of Estonian artist Sergei Inkatov was seen in the Torculu art gallery in Barcelona.
- From March to July in 2010 an exhibition of Ilon Wikland’s illustrations was on display in Santander and Madrid.
- In July 2013 two Estonia-themed exhibitions: “Estonian Lighthouses Over Time” and “Historical Maps of Livonia” were displayed in the San Juan monastery in Burgos.
In June of 2014, Estonian contemporary art was introduced through “The Hypnotist Collector” project in Barcelona.
In October 2016 the first Estonian Film Days in Spain, “ESTilo nórdico” were held in Cine Doré in Madrid. Films such as “In the Crosswind”, “Cherry Tobacco”, “Mushrooming”, “Kertu” and “The Fencer” were shown. The films were introduced to the audience by Tristan Priimägi, Toomas Hussar and Katrin Maimik. The films “In the Crosswind”, “1944” and “The Fencer” were shown in regular Spanish cinemas as well.
- Since 2005, a Spanish film week has taken place in Tallinn and Tartu each spring, organised by the Spanish Embassy in Tallinn. The project is flourishing thanks to the Sõprus cinema, the Ministry of Culture, the University of Tartu and the Estonian Film Foundation. In March of 2016, Spain and Spanish film week took place in the framework of the Iberofest festival.
- In August 2007 an Iberian film week took place in both Tallinn and Tartu.
- In April 2008 the Estonian film “The Class” (“Klass”) was shown in Spain.
- In July 2008, V. Õunpuu’s film “Autumn Ball” (“Sügisball” ) participated in the Cinema Jove international film festival in Valencia and won the grand prize.
- In April 2010 Estonian documentary films were shown at Madrid’s Suite Film Festival.
- In May 2011 Jaan Toomik’s short film “Oleg” was screened within the framework of a modern art festival in Madrid.
- In April 2013, the Estonian, Spanish and Portuguese co-production film "Black Diamonds" won the Malaga Film Festival Audience Award.
- In July 2013, Janno Jürgens' short film "The Distance" won the Francisco García de Paso Award, given to the short film best expressing human values at the international competition of the Huesca International Film Festival.
- In August 2013, the Spanish language and cultural centre Hispaania Maja (Spain House), in cooperation with the cinema Artis, and with the support of the Spanish Embassy, organised a Spanish World Festival, which featured movies, music, books, cooking, and a children's program from the Spanish-speaking world.
In March of 2014, a Spanish world festival took place initiated by the Embassies of Spain, Argentina and Mexico. The program included films, lectures, concerts, exhibitions and free Spanish language lessons. Among the organisers of the Iberofest festival introducing Ibero-American culture in March of 2016 were the embassies of Spain, Argentina, Honduras, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Portugal and Chile.
The Estonian-Georgian co-producted film "Tangerines" was shown in cinemas in the spring of 2015 in Madrid and Barcelona, in addition to 16 other cities across Spain.
LITERATURE AND THEATRE
On December 15 2016, Aino Kallas’s book “La Novia del lobo” was presented in the Tierra de Fuego bookshop in Madrid as part of the Nordic Literature Club. A discussion about Aino Kallas’s person, her book and the island of Hiiumaa was held in cooperation with Luisa Gutiérrez Ruiz, translator and employee of the Finnish Cultural Institute.
In 2016 Andres Kasekamp’s “A History of the Baltic States” was published in Spanish by the Barcelonan publishing house Edicions Bellaterra.
A small but prominent selection Estonian literature has been published in Spanish: Jaan Kross ("Treading Air", “The Emperor’s Madman”, “Professor Martens’s Return”), Jaan Kaplinski "The Same River"; Viivi Luik (“The Seventh Spring of Peace”) and Tõnu Õnnepalu (“Borderland”). The prose form of "Kalevipoeg" and Estonian fairy tales have also been published in Spanish. The first Spanish translation of Estonian poetry, Jüri Talvet’s “Estonia’s Elegy and Other Poems”, was published in the spring of 2003. Juri Lotman and his semiotic school have gained fame in Spanish academic circles. A number of Juri Lotman’s books and articles have been published in Spanish. In 2014, Juhan Liiv's collection of poems "La nieve cae, canta mi voz" (Snow is drifting, I'm singing) was published in Spanish. You can read about Estonia's history in the Spanish translations of Sofi Oksanen's books "When the Doves Disappeared" and "Purge".
In academic circles, Juri Lotman and his semiotic school are very well known. A number of Juri Lotman's articles and books on Russian cultural history and semiotics have been published in Spanish.
Jüri Talvet and Ain Kaalep have been given the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica).
- On 23 April 2008, Estonian poet Triin Soomets took part in the traditional “Night of the Books” in Madrid. On 21 May 2008, professor of world literature at Tartu University Jüri Talvet participated in the Barcelona International Poetry Festival with his seventh compilation of poems “Silmad peksavad une seinu” (“Eyes Beat the Walls of Sleep”).
- In May 2010 the Spanish writer and women’s rights campaigner Rosa María Rodríguez Magda and the Spanish writer, philologist, and publisher Josep Carlos Lainez visited Tartu’s literary festival Prima Vista.
- In 2011 the Spanish-language translation of Sofi Oksanen’s “Purge” was published. In May of 2012 “Purge” premiered on stage and was presented to full houses in San Sebastian, Madrid, and other theatre festivals.
- In May 2013 the Spanish writer Juan Mayorga’s play “Endless Peace” premiered in the Estonian Drama Theatre. Mayorga also performed at the European House literary cafe’s Spanish literature night. In August 2013 the Spanish actress Ana Asensio performed a play entitled “Medea Has Something on Her Heart” at the MONOMAFFIA international theatre festival in Pärnu. In December of 2013 Jordi Galceran's play „Leak" premiered at the Estonia Drama Theatre.
- In May 2014, the publishing house Ediciones Xorki presented the second edition of the Estonian fairy tale book "Cuentod tradicionales estonios". The book's editor is George Talvet and translator Hella Aarelaid.
- In November of 2014, a Spanish translation of Juhan Liiv’s collection of poetry “La nieve cae, mi voz canta” (Snow is drifting, I’m singing) was presented in Madrid. The work was published in Spanish thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Madrid publisher Xorki, the compiler Jüri Talvet and the collaborative work of translators Ángela Artero Navarro and Albert Lázaro-Tinaut.
- In February 2015, José Miguel Cejas presented his book "El baile tras la tormenta" in Madrid. At the presentation, Apostolic administrator of the Catholic Church in Estonia, Bishop Philippe Jourdan spoke about his experiences and life in Estonia.
- Jaan Kross's "Treading Air" was presented in Valencia in December 2015. The work was printed by the publishing house IMPEDIMENTA.
- In 2016, Andres Kasekamp's overview "A History of the Baltic States" / "Historia de los Estados Baltico" was published by the Barcelona publishing house Edicions Bellaterra.
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