Canada recognized the independence of the Republic of Estonia for the first time in 1922 and never recognized the annexation of Estonia to the Soviet Union. On August 26, 1991 Canada recognized the independence of Estonia. Following World War II, Canada received and became home to thousands of Estonian refugees. Currently the second-largest community of Estonians outside of Estonia is in Canada and this gives an added dimension to relations between the two countries.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Canada is Toomas Lukk, who presented her credentials to Canada’s Governor General David Johnston on September 5, 2018. Estonian Ambassador to Canada to resides in Ottawa. As of November 2018, the Canadian ambassador to Estonia is Kevin Rex, who resides in Riga and is accredited to all three Baltic states.
Canadian ambassadors to Estonia:
Alain Hausser (2015-2018)
John Morrison (2012-2014)
Scott Heatherington (2009-2012)
Claire A. Poulin (2006-2008)
Robert Andrigo (2002-2005)
Peter P.L. McKellar (1999-2002)
William L. Clarke (1995-1999)
Michael Burke Phillips (1993-1995)
Mary Vandenhoff (1991-1992)
Estonian ambassadors to Canada:
Gita Kalmet (2013-2018)
Marina Kaljurand (2011-2013)
Väino Reinart (2008-2011)
Jüri Luik (2003-2008)
Sven Jürgenson (2000-2003)
G.K. Stoicescu (1997-2000)
Toomas Hendrik Ilves (1994-1997)
Considering Canada’s size, Estonia’s representation in Canada is largely based on the network of honorary consuls, which is headed by Consul General Laas Leivat (Ontario). He is assisted by honorary consuls Johan Olaf Soosaar (Halifax), Francois-Xavier Simard (Quebec), Külliva Kangur (Edmonton), Evaleen Jaager Roy and Evi Olga Mustel (Vancouver), and assistant honorary consul Thomas Heinsoo (Toronto).
Interparliamentary communication plays an important role in relations between the countries. The Estonia-Canada friendship group in Riigikogu is comprised of 9 members, headed by Keit Pentus-Rosimannus. There is a Nordic-Baltic friendship group in Canadian parliament, which is headed by Jamie Schmale.
As of 27 September 2006, mutual visa-free travel is in force between Estonia and Canada.
Ever since diplomatic relations were restored in the beginning of the 90s, Canada has been an important partner to Estonia in both bilateral relations and on the multilateral level. Canada has made significant contributions to building up the institutions of independent Estonia. Some projects that should be highlighted are the creation of the Estonian Legal Language Centre, language immersion projects, and the work of the Canadian City Institute. Also worth mentioning is the aid Canada gave within the framework of a military training programme, which played a role in preparing Estonia for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Canada was the first NATO member state to ratify Estonia’s accession protocol. Many times we have had Canada’s support in important NATO issues that affect Estonia’s security. Our countries have been tied for a long time through our contributions in Afghanistan. We also have close co-operation within the UN, OSCE, and OECD.
Canada’s aid in boosting Estonia’s development co-operation capabilities is also noteworthy. Programmes of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have made it possible to carry out many development aid projects that were important to Estonia, for example for strengthening the parliament and institutions of Georgia as well as a joint Estonia-Canada project geared towards the development of a democratic society, to name a few. By uniting opportunities and sharing responsibility, Estonia has been capable of resolving problems brought up by partner countries. One good example is the Canada-Ukraine-Baltic Economic Management Training Programme (CUBEMTP) for Ukrainian officials, which was carried out in co-operation with Canada, Latvia and Lithuania.
The Canadian side has expressed interest in continuing development aid co-operation with Estonia in the Eastern Partnership countries. Currently potential projects are in the planning phase.
|May 2018||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|November 2017||Minister of Defence Jüri Luik at Halifax International Security Forum|
|November 2016||Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso at Halifax International Security Forum|
|November 2014||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the Halifax International Security Forum|
|May 2013||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a state visit|
|November 2011||Chairman of the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson|
|November 2010||Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet|
|October 2010||Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur|
|February 2010||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|February 2010||Minister of Culture Laine Jänes|
|November 2008||Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo|
|June 2008||Minister of Population Urve Palo|
|May 2008||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|February 2005||Minister of Social Affairs Marko Pomerants|
|February 2005||President of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) Ene Ergma|
|March 2004||Minister of Education and Research Toivo Maimets|
|May 2002||Minister of Defence Sven Mikser. The objective of the visit was to develop defence co-operation as well as make preparations for the invitation to join NATO at the summit meeting in Prague in November 2002|
|November 2019||Governor General Julie Payette|
|July 2014||Representative the Canadian Government in Parliament Peter van Loan|
|April 2014||Foreign Minister John Baird|
|April 2013||Nordic-Baltic friendship group of the Canadian Parliament|
|July 2010||Minister of Foreign Trade Peter van Loan|
|July 2006||Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken|
|November 2003||Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) Assistant Deputy Minister Paul Debois|
|May 2003||Speaker of the Parliament House of Commons Peter Milliken|
On 21 September 2017 the EU- Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agrement (CETA) entered into force provisionally.
Estonia and Canada have signed the following bilateral agreements:
- Memorandum on Mutual Understanding between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Estonia and the Ministry of Justice of Canada (came into force 15 May 1992);
- Memorandum on Mutual Understanding in the Area of Fishing (came into force 23 Sep 1992);
- Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Income and Capital and on the Prevention of Tax Evasion (came into force 28 Dec 1995);
- Memorandum on Mutual Understanding between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Estonia and the Ministry of Defence of Canada Regarding Military Matters (came into force 13 Oct 1997);
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Estonia and the Toronto School Board on the Estonian Language Immersion Program. (came into force 31 Mar 2000.);
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia and the Canadian International Development Agency concerning the Official Development Assistance in Central Europe Program (ODACE). (came into force 16 Apr 2004);
- Agreement on Social Security between the Republic of Estonia and Canada. (came into force 1 Nov 2006.);
- Agreement on Audiovisual Co-operation (came into force 4 Nov 2004).
- Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Estonia concerning Youth Exchanges (came into force 1 August 2010).
Relations in the field of defence started to develop in 1994, primarily through training programmes the Canadian side offered for Estonian soldiers and officials. A formal basis for defence-related co-operation was laid with the conclusion of the memorandum of mutual understanding in 1997. The Government of Canada was the first NATO member state to ratify Estonia’s NATO accession protocol. Estonia and Canada participated together in the NATO ISAF mission in the difficult region of southern Afghanistan. In 2014 Canada contributed in Baltic Air Policying mission with 4 fighters. Furthermore, a Canadian infantry battalion participated in Saber Strike, which was a training taking place in the Baltics in 2014. Canada also has its representatives of the armed forces working in the NATO Force Integration Unit in Estonia, which was established based on the decision made during Wales Summit 2014. As of 2017 is Canada the Framework Nation of NATO multinational battlegroup deployed in Latvia.
Over the years Canada has supported the activities of the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) with both instructors and students. Since 2017 the Chief of Staff of BALTEFCOL is colonel of Canadian Armed Forces. BALTDEFCOL has close co-operation with the Canadian Forces College (CFC). The Canadian instructors that came to the college were held in high esteem.
Looking to the future, Estonia hopes that Canada will join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and contribute to a rotation of Baltic air policing.
Canada invites Estonian security policy experts to participate in the internationally respected annual security policy conference held in Halifax. Most recently Jüri Luik, the Minister of Defence participated in 2019 at the conference.
Estonian - Canadian trade 2011-2019 (in million euros)
* import is calculated on the basis of the sending country
Economic relations between Estonia and Canada are not very close. In 2018, the share of trade with Canada was 0.42% of the total volume and Canada was Estonia's 25th trade partner.
Estonia’s primary export articles to Canada in 2019 were predominantly mineral products (mineral fuel, mineral oils, and products from their distillation) (43%) and machines and equipment (38%). Other important articles were industrial products (6%) and pre-made food products and drinks (6%).
Estonia's primary import articles from Canada in 2018 were machines and equipment (30.0%), animal products (17.5%), metals and metal products (13.6%) and transportation vehicles (11.0%).
There are 176 companies with at least partial Canadian-ownership (as of September 2019). According to the Bank of Estonia, Estonia’s direct investment position in Canada as of 31.03.2019 was 0.6 million euros. Canada’s direct investment position in Estonia as of 30.06.2019 was 50 million euros, which makes up 0.2% of all direct investments in Estonia. Investments have primarily been made in real estate and finance and insurance sectors.
The Canadian business delegations that have visited Estonia, have been interested in learning about Estonia’s e-government and e-health care systems, as well as the logistics and tourism sector.
Cultural exchange between Estonia and Canada takes place on a high level and is very diverse. Of Estonian culture, the area that has garnered the most attention and had the broadest exposure is Estonian cinema. For over 10 years the annual Baltic Film Festival has been organised in Ottawa, and over the years Canadian audiences have been able to see almost all the newest Estonian films (V. Kuik’s “Georg”, A. Kask’s “December Heat”, V. Õunpuu’s “Autumn Ball”, A. Mäeots’s “Taarka”, P. Urbla’s “Shop of Dreams”, etc.). In 2011 the Baltic Film festival was expanded to become the Baltic and Nordic Film Festival “Bright Nights”, within the framework of which audiences in Ottawa and Montreal could view the newest films from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Nordic countries. Estonia was represented by V. Õunpuu’s film “The Temptation of St. Tony”. Estonian films have also been shown at other film festivals – J. Kilmi and K. Aarma’s film “Disco and Atomic War” earned a lot of attention at the 25th European Union Film Festival, and L. Paakspuu’s “The Wish Tree” and A. Tuisk’s “Bank Robbery” were shown at the Montreal World Film Festival.
In connection with the Republic of Estonia’s anniversary celebrations, concerts by Tõnu Naissoo’s jazz quartet took place and maestro Eri Klas conducted the symphony orchestra; Estonia National Opera soloists Heli Veskus and Oliver Kuusik performed at the Canadian National Opera. The E-stuudio choir and Kiili early music ensemble also performed in Ottawa. In 2009 Raivo Tafenau (Quintet featuring Sergio Bastos) performed at the International Jazz Festival in Ottawa.
This year the photo exhibit “Photographed Estonia” by A. Haas, G. Järvet, B. Püve and I. Muusikus was opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
For its part, Canada has brought its star performers to Estonia for Jazzkaar, the Birgitta Festival, and for solo concerts on the Song Festival Grounds. Estonian audiences have had opportunities to see Brian Adams, Michael Bublé, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, and Kwakwaka’wakw Indian performers. Memorable performances have been given by Avril Lavigne and Rufud Wainwright. Estonian jazz fans have been able to enjoy the Montreal Guitar Trio and jazz guitarist Kevin Breit. In addition, many notable Canadian pianists, singers and dancers have performed in Estonia’s concert and opera venues. And one can’t forget to mention the productions that have been a huge hit among the Estonian public for the past few years, Cirque du Soleil.
The country is home to a large community of Estonians, who are active in society and have made a significant contribution to preserving Estonian culture outside of Estonia’s borders. Canadian Estonians are united by the Estonian Central Council of Canada, which was founded in 1951 with the goal of preserving and developing ties between Canadian Estonians and Estonia. In addition, there are active Estonian societies in many cities. The biggest centres of the Estonian community in Canada are Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. After Estonia regained its independence, many Estonians that were born in Canada have come back to Estonia, where they have found success in state institutions, the cultural realm, and business. In addition to the well-established traditional Estonian community in Canada, in recent years Estonian youths in Estonia have shown growing interest in studying or working in Canada. An agreement between the Canada and Estonia concerning youth exchange came into force in August 2010. Estonian and Canadian universities have established student exchange programs (University of Tartu - University of Toronto, Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn - Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Tallinn University of Technology - University of Waterloo in Ontario) that further contibute to youth exchange between the two countries.
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