Austria recognised the Republic of Estonia on 26 June 1921 and again after the restoration of Estonia’s independence on 28 August 1991. Diplomatic relations between the two nations were re-established on 8 January 1992. The formal opening of the Austrian Embassy in Tallinn in October 1997 was attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schüssel.
Bilateral relations between Estonia and Austria are very good and co-operation is extensive, covering close communication in political relations as well as in the areas of economy, education, and culture. The Estonian Ambassador to Austria Toomas Kukk presented his credentials to the president of Austria on 19.09.2018. Previously Estonia has been represented in Vienna by ambassadors Rein Oidekivi (2015-2018), Eve-Külli Kala (2010-2015), Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi (2003-2009), Mart Laanemäe (1999-2003), and Toivo Tasa (1995-1999).
Estonia has five honorary consuls in Austria: Sirje Winding-Frauenlob in Salzburg, Michael Friedrich Seidl in the states of Styria and Carinthia, Rainer Henn in the areas of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, Klaus Schmied in the state of Upper Austria, and Hubert Tramposch in Innsbruck, who represents Estonia in Tirolia and Vorarlberg.
Ambassadors of Austria to Estonia:
Renate Kobler 2011 - 2015
Angelika Saupe-Berchtold 2007 - 2011
Dr. Jakub Forst-Battaglia 2001 – 2006
Michael Miess 1997 – 2001
Wendelin Ettmayer (residing in Helsinki) 1994 – 1997
Manfred Ortner (residing in Helsinki) 1992 – 15.12.
The honorary consul of Austria in Estonia since 24 November 1992 is Enn Vels.
The Austrian defence attaché in Estonia is Brigadier General August Reiter, who resides in Stockholm. Estonia has not appointed a defence attaché to Austria.
In October 2004, the Estonian-Austrian Parliamentary group was re-established in the Riigikogu.
|July 2018||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|January 2018||President Kersti Kaljulaid at an official meeting with EL trio|
|December 2011||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|January 2011||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|November 2010||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|February 2010||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|June 2007||Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma|
|March 2005||Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Tarmo Kõuts|
|December 2004||Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma|
|September 2004||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland|
|July 2004||President Arnold Rüütel|
|January 2003||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland|
|November 2002||President Arnold Rüütel|
|September 2002||President Arnold Rüütel|
|July 2002||President Arnold Rüütel|
|November 2001||President Lennart Meri, Minister of Finance Siim Kallas and Minister of Economic Affairs Henrik Hololei|
|August 2001||Prime Minister Mart Laar|
|July 2001||Prime Minister Mart Laar|
|November 2000||Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|July 2000||President Lennart Meri|
|May - June 2018||Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen|
|September 2017||Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz|
|June 2014||Federal President Heinz Fischer|
|August 2009||Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger|
|April 2007||Federal President Heinz Fischer|
|March 2007||Chief of Defence Staff General Roland Ertl|
|May 2006||Prime Minister of Upper Austria Josef Pühringer|
|August-September 2005||Minister of Defence Günther Platter|
|June 2005||President of the National Council (Nationalrat) of the Austrian Parliament Dr Andreas Khol|
|April 2002||President Dr Thomas Klestil|
|April 2001||Foreign Minister Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner|
Following agreements have been concluded between Estonia and Austria:
- Loan Agreement (came into force 05.07.93);
- Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 01.10.95);
- Agreement on the International Route Bus Carriage of Passengers (came into force 01.05.97);
- Agreement on Non-Regular International Carriage of Passengers (came into force 01.05.97);
- Agreement regarding the exemption from visa requirement (came into force 20 July 1999);
- Agreement regarding the readmission of persons (agreement on readmission) (came into force 1 September 2001);
- Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Income Tax and the Hindrance of the Evasion of Taxes (came into force 12.11.02);
- Agreement on the exchange and reciprocal protection of classified information (came into force 01.02.2010)
- Agreement addressing reciprocal diplomatic and consular representation for the issuing of visas, according to which Austria will begin to represent Estonia for visa matters in Saudi Arabia and Qatar (came into force 01.11.2009)
- Agreement on the exchange and mutual protection of classified information (came into force 01.02.2010).
- Agreement on co-operation in the area of the labour market between the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs and the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (came into force 07.03.2011).
Estonia's economic contacts with Austria have increased steadily over the years. Although Austrian companies' main interests lie primarily in Central Europe, and recently also the Balkan region, during the last decade Austrian businesses have also shown interest in markets further abroad.
Austria covers Estonia economically and commercially through its Commercial Agency in Helsinki. Its office in Tallinn primarily organises the visits of Austrian business delegations to Estonia. The exchange of business delegations over the past few years has had a positive impact on the development of trade between the two countries and on advanced direct contacts between companies.
Austria has maintained its position as the 20st-25th biggest foreign trade partner of Estonia, making up about 0.6% of the total trade volume.
The global financial crisis affected trade between the two countries, reducing it significantly, however, since 2010, exports and imports have, in general, been growing. In 2018 trade stood at 190 mln EUR. Regardless of the gradual growth of Estonian export to Austria, Austrian import to Estonia is growing much faster. In 2018, the trade balance for Estonia was negative by close to 85 mln EUR. The main export articles are machinery and equipment and wood and wooden products.
Estonia-Austria trade 2013-2018 (in millions of EUR):
|EXPORT||% of main export||IMPORT *||% of main import||TURNOVER||%|
*Imports according to sending country
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
Main export articles in 2018:
- Machinery and equipment - 25.6%
- Wood and wood products - 21%
- Other manufactured goods - 10.1%
- Chemical products - 9.9%
Main import articles in 2018:
- Machinery and equipment - 24.6%
- Chemical products - 22%
- Base metals and articles of base metal – 10.1%
According to the Bank of Estonia, Austria's direct investments in Estonia as of 31.12.2018 amounted to 415.6 million euros (2% of total FDI and 11th largest foreign investor in Estonia). The greatest investments were made to financial and insurance activities (40% of total FDI), the manufacturing industry (27.5%) and professional, scientific and technical activities (11.6%).
According to the Estonian Commercial Register, as of 02.04.2015 there were 67 businesses with Austrian participation registered in Estonia, 34 of them with 100% Austrian capital. The largest of these are AS Estonian Cell, Compensa Life Vienna Insurance Group SE, Wienerberger AS, Greiner Packaging AS, DOKA Eesti OÜ, Vao Agro OÜ, Heidelberg Baltic Finland OÜ and Puma Estonia.
The total value of Estonian investments in Austria as of 31.12.2018 was 4.2 million EUR. Investments have been made in mining, the manufacturing industry, wholesale and retail trade, financial and insurance activities and real estate.
According to statistics from the Bank of Estonia, between 2013 and 2015, 25-30,000 Austrian tourists visited Estonia every year. The largest number of foreign visitors came in 2011 (30,476), when Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture. However, in 2018 the total amount of Austrian tourists rose close to 35,600. On average, Austrian tourists spent 4,1 days in Estonia.
In addition to Tallinn, tourists were also interested in Tartu County, Pärnu County, and West and East Viru County.
Austria is also becoming more and more popular as a destination for Estonian travellers. In 2012, nearly 42,000 trips were made to Austria. The years inbetween saw a slight decrease in travellers, but again in 2018 Estonians made 42,400 trips to Austria, most of which were skiing trips and lasted on average 3,1 days.
Cultural and educational co-operation
Estonia’s co-operation with Austria’s ministries of education, research and culture throughout the years has been very close and well-functioning. Bilateral co-operation in training German language teachers also deserves to be mentioned. In addition, for years now there has been an Austrian guest teacher exchange programme, within the framework of which a teacher from Austria spends four weeks in various Estonian schools. Every year since 2003, two Estonian teachers have had the opportunity to participate in an equivalent programme in Austrian schools. The Estonian language has been taught at the University of Vienna since 1978.
Nearly every large Estonian institute of higher education has direct contacts for advancing co-operation with Austrian universities. Partnership agreements for the exchange of students and instructors through the Socrates-Erasmus programme are very common, and co-operation also takes place within the framework of various joint projects and networks.
Close cultural contacts between the two nations developed immediately after Estonia's re-independence; along with contacts in literature and art, especially close contacts have been created in the fields of theatre and music.
On the initiative of Honorary Consul Henn-Jüri Uibopuu, Austria donated over 3 000 books to the Estonian National Library in 1991. Thanks to the further co-operation between the Austrian Embassy in Tallinn, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Estonian National Library, in 1993 an Austrian Reading Room was opened in the National Library.
The works of many Estonian authors (Jaan Kross, Jaan Undusk, Ene Mihkelson) have been recognised with the Herder Prize given out by the University of Vienna. Translator Rita Tasa earned the First Class Honour Cross of Austrian Science and Art in 2000.
Contacts between theatre and music people have grown especially close. Many Estonian performers are active in Austria, for example Ain Anger is a soloist at the Staatsoper Wien and Annely Peebo is working at the Volksoper Wien (as a mezzo-soprano).
Many contacts between Estonia and Austria have been created by the music of Arvo Pärt. The year 2005 in Austria could have been called The Year of Pärt, since many concerts took place that included his works. In addition to the Herder Prize, which Pärt had won earlier, in 2008 he was presented at Kadriorg Art Museum with the First Class Honour Cross of Austrian Science and Art.
Copious cultural events have become one of the most important tools for introducing Estonia. The following are some highlights from the eventful cultural calendar of 2010: the premiere of Arvo Pärt’s 4th Symphony in Vienna’s Konzerthaus and the concert of the Tallinn Philharmonic directed by Andres Mustonen in the Musikverin.
At the Urania Nordic film festival in April 2010, it was possible for Austrian film fans to become acquainted with newer Estonian cinema. Estonian theatre in the form of productions by NO99 was enjoyed by the theatre-going public of Vienna on two occasions. In 2011 a number of events took place that introduced Tallinn as the European Capital of Culture.
In 2012 the duo of Olav Ehala and Lembit Saarsalu gave a concert in the state government building in Innsbruck. A presentation of the works of Estonian artists took place in Vienna at the most impressive fair showcasing contemporary art ViennaFair, in addition to the presentation of the catalogue of young artist Merike Estna and events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Estonian film.
Estonian societies in Austria
The Estonian community in Austria is not particularly large compared to other Estonian communities abroad. The number of Estonian citizens who have registered as Austrian residents remains at around 500.
In 2000, when Lennart Meri, President of Estonia, visited Salzburg, the Salzburg Estonian Society was informally founded. The formal establishment of the society took place in 2002 (with 14 founding members). The society president is Estonian Deputy Honorary Consul to the state of Salzburg Sirje Winding-Frauenlob.
In addition to the society in Salzburg, there is also a Estonian society that brings Austrians together in Vienna
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