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Finland

(last updated: 25.06.2018)

The Republic of Finland recognised the Republic of Estonia in 1920 and diplomatic relations were restored on 29 August 1991. The first Ambassador of Estonia to Finland after independence was regained was Lennart Meri.

The present Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Finland is Margus Laidre, who presented his credentials to President of Finland Sauli Niinistö on 2 September 2014. The Embassy of the Republic of Finland in Tallinn has been managed by Ambassador Kirsti Johanna Narinen since 18 September 2014.

Eight honorary consuls of Estonia operate in Finland: in Oulu, Turku, Kotka, Mariehamn, Vaasa, Kuopio, Rovaniemi and Tampere.
Finland has three honorary consuls in Estonia: in Pärnu, Narva and Tartu.

The 13th composition of the Riigikogu established the Estonian and Finnish Group of Friends on 2 April 2015, which is chaired by Kalle Palling. The Estonian Group of Friends in Finnish Etuskunta was established in February 2016 and is chaired by Krista Kiuru.

The Estonian and Finnish governments held a joint session in Tallinn on 7 May 2018 to celebrate the 100th jubilee of both states. Transport connections between Estonia and Finland, digital and cultural cooperation between the two states and joint interests in the European Union were discussed at the session.

 

Most important visits

To Finland
November 2017 President Kersti Kaljulaid at the celebration of "Estonia-Finland 200"
October 2017 Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with major investors
October2017 President Kersti Kaljulaid spoke at the Hanaholmens's Futureforum
September 2017 Minister of Defence Jüri Luik on familiarisation visit
March 2017 President Kersti Kaljulaid on a state visit
January 2017 Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna on a familiarisation visit
January 2017 Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser on  a familiarisation visit
December 2016 Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on an familiarisation visit
November 2016 Government’s special representative to  EU institutions Matti Maasikas
October 2016 President Kersti Kaljulaid on a familiarisation visit
September 2016 Minister of Foreign Affairs Jürgen Ligi on a familiarisation visit
June 2016 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the 7th World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples in Lahti
May 2016 Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas
April 2016 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
March 2016 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (lecture at the Tanner Society)
November 2014 Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas
To Estonia
June 2018 President Sauli Niinistö at the Estonia 100 celebration in Tartu, at the Baltic Students' Song and Dance Festival "Gaudeamus"
June 2018 Minister of Foreign Affairs Timo Soini
June 2017 President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä at the celebration of Finland 100 in Tallinn
June 2017 Minister of Foreign Affairs Timo Soini
May 2017 Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö
November 2016 Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
May 2016 President Sauli Niinistö on a State Visit
June 2015 Prime Minister Juha Sipilä on his first visit
June 2015 Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö on a familiarisation visit
June 2015 Minister of Foreign Affairs Timo Soini on his first visit
June 2014 Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, on his first visit as PM

 

Significant agreements

The contractual basis between the two states has developed far in terms of the number and content of contracts and the bilateral economic relations between Estonia and Finland have also been regulated by the internal market rules of the EU since 1 May 2004. The most important bilateral contracts made between Estonia and Finland are:

  • The Agreement on Cancellation of Requirement for Legalisation of Documents from the Population Registers of the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Finland (entered into force on 1 July 2012)
  • The Agreement on Mutual Protection of Classified Information of the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Finland (entered into force on 5 June 2007)
  • The Agreement on Mutual Maintenance of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products of the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Finland (entered into force on 23 December 2006)
  • The Agreement on Joint Implementation Project for Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (entered into force on 19 January 2004)
  • The Agreement on Cross-border Environmental Impact Assessment (entered into force on 6 June 2002)
  • The Agreement on Readmission of Persons Arriving and Staying in the State Illegally (entered into force on 3 October 1996)
  • The Contract for Prevention of Double Taxation with Income Tax and Capital Tax and of Tax Evasion (entered into force on 30 December 1993)
  • The Contract for Promotion and Protection of Investments (entered into force on 3 December 1992)
  • The Contract for Cultural and Education Cooperation between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Finland, the so-called “Convention on Intellectual Cooperation” (initially entered into in 1937, re-enforced in 1992).

 

Co-operation

The relations of Estonia and Finland are characterised by strong historical and cultural connections; contact between the two states is very frequent and covers a number of fields from the economy to culture.

Estonians form the biggest group of foreign nationals in Finnish society. The total number of Estonians living in Finland as at November 2017 was 70,618 (over 52,029 have permanent addresses, over 18,589 have contact addresses).

The number of Finns living in Estonia according to the data of Statistics Estonia of June 2016 is 7,659, but the estimated number is ca 9,000. The majority of them live in Tallinn or near Tallinn. Over 1,000 Finnish students study in Estonia.

Almost all Estonian ministries cooperate closely with Finland. Bilateral cooperation and contact with Finnish partners is particularly strong and frequent in the fields of defence, economy, education and research, culture, internal affairs and justice.

ICT holds a special place in the cooperation between Estonia and Finland. Cooperation takes place in the development of e-governance and e-data exchange. Prime Ministers Andrus Ansip and Jyrki Katainen digitally signed a mutual memorandum of understanding for cooperation on 10 December 2013, which covers the field of ICT and X-Road cooperation. It was agreed in the memorandum that Estonia and Finland will be working on the further development of the national data exchange layer, i.e. X-Road, together. The test version on Palveluväylä (based on the X-Road), which offers the possibility of cross-border use of e-services, was launched in Finland in autumn 2015. On 10 May 2016 Prime Ministers Taavi Rõivas and Juha Sipilä digitally signed a joint declaration as a continuation of cooperation, which focuses on launching data exchange between the two states on the basis of the data exchange platform of the X-Road.

There is now a technical solution which makes it possible to exchange data between the different institutions of Estonia and Finland via the X-Road. The Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions was established for the development of the X-Road data exchange layer in June 2017. We have created the premises for the implementation of cross-border e-services with the data exchange. The two states cooperate in launching data exchange in the following fields: population register data, commercial register data, digital prescriptions, social insurance data, health insurance data and nautical data.

The topic of a tunnel connecting Tallinn and Helsinki has risen to the top of possible fields of future cooperation. The conference where the results of the feasibility study of the tunnel (FinEst Link project) were disclosed was held on 7 February 2018 and was attended by the transport ministers of both states, mayors and others.

After the completion of the feasibility study of the Tallinn-Helsinki railway tunnel, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Transport formed a working group that will determine the next steps in the tunnel project. One of the tasks of the working group is to study the need for further studies and the options of funding them. The working group will consider the results and recommendations of the FinEst project study in the course of its work. The far-reaching economic impact of the tunnel, funding options and issues concerning transport and logistics will also be considered in light of the technological developments.

DEFENCE CO-OPERATION

The defence cooperation between Estonia and Finland is active and covers regular political and defence consultations as well as practical joint initiatives. Estonia and Finland have a framework contract on defence cooperation and based on this, the states continue to exchange information about the security situation on the Baltic Sea, defence planning, the development of military capabilities, research and development in the area of defence, training exercises and cyber defence.

The two states have cooperated closely in the field of defence education and military training as well as in the areas of joint procurement and arms control. For years, Finland has supported the Baltic Defence College (BALDEFCOL) by sending an instructor.

The cooperation of Finland and Estonia on the UNIFL mission of the UN (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) to Lebanon started in May 2015, where Estonia is contributing a unit the size of an infantry platoon to the joint battalion of Finland and Ireland. The Estonian infantry platoon serves in the western sector of the UNIFIL next to the border of Israel and its main duty is to carry out observations and patrols, and man control posts. Members of the Estonian Defence Forces also cooperated with the armed forces of Lebanon. The joint battalion of Finland and Ireland will stop operating at the end of 2018.

Finland has been a Contributing Participant of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, which is based in Estonia, since October 2015. Two Finnish experts work at the centre. Estonia is one of the founding countries of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which is located in Finland.

 

Economic relations

Data from the Statistics Estonia, the Bank of Estonia and Enterprise Estonia have been used.

Estonia and Finland have entered into all main economic contracts, incl. the Contract for Promotion and Protection of Investments, the Contract for Economic Cooperation and Support,  the Contract for Prevention of Double Taxation with Income Tax and Capital Tax and of Tax Evasion, the Aviation Contract, and the Mutual Customs Support and Road Transport Contract. The internal market rules of the EU have regulated the bilateral economic relations between Estonia and Finland since 1 May 2004.

TRADE

Finland has been the most important economic and trade partner to Estonia for a long time. Finland remains in the first place among main trade partners with a turnover that comprises ca 14-15% of the total. Finland is Estonia’s main export and import partner.
The biggest trade over in the last six years was achieved in 2017 (4.2 billion euros, +13% over the year). Trade mostly grew on the account of import (+18%). Export to Finland increased ca 9%.

Estonian-Finnish trade 2012-2017 (billion euros)

Year Export  Share % Import Share % Balance Turnover Share %
2012 1.8 14.5 2.1 14.9 -0.3 3.9 14.7
2013 2.0 16.1 2.1 15.0 -0.1 4.1 15.5
2014 1.8 14.9 2.1 15.2 -0.3 3.9 15.1
2015 1.8 15.7 1.9 14.5 -0.1 3.7 15.1
2016 1.9 15.9 1.8 13.0 0.1 3.7 14.4
2017 2.1 16.1 2.1 14.1 0.02 4.2 15.1

Primary articles of export in 2017:

  • Machinery and mechanical appliances – 29%
  • Base metals and articles of base metal – 14%
  • Industrial products – 11%

Primary articles of import in 2017:

  • Machinery and mechanical appliances – 29%
  • Vehicles, transport equipment – 17%
  • Mineral products – 12%
  • Base metals and articles of base metal – 12%

Machinery and equipment are the main goods exported to Finland and their export volumes remain around 0.5-0.6 billion euros. The main products in the group of goods are remote controls, panels, parts of handling equipment, transformers and static converters, parts of electric engines and generators, isolated wire and cables, and telephones. The second biggest export articles are metals and metal products, the main products are iron or steel constructions, iron or steel reservoirs, tanks and pipe fittings, aluminium products, and the third biggest group is other industrial products (furniture and accessories, light fixtures, timber houses). The share of timber and timber products in export remains around 7-8%.

Machinery and equipment are the main imported goods, the second biggest import articles are vehicles and transport equipment. Mineral products (gas oils, petrol and power) are also imported; the share of metals and metal products in import is similar.

INVESTMENTS AND BUSINESS

Finland has been one of the two biggest investors in the Estonian economy during the time of independence (in second place after Sweden). The share of direct investments made by Finland and Sweden in Estonia is ca 50%.

million euros 31.12.2012 31.12.2013 31.12.2014 31.12.2015 31.12.2016 31.12.2017
DI Estonia 14 352.3 16 011.3 17 210.1 17 323.1 18 373.6 19,301.4
Finland 3 352.6 3 447.4 3 616.1 3 916.7 4 220.4 4 301.5
DI abroad 4 596.5 4 997.6 5 290.7 5 711.6 6 238.3 6 420.5
Finland 246.0 204.6 293.1 407.4 430.9 589.1

As of 31 December 2017, 22% of the direct investments made in Estonia came from Finland, 4.3 billion euros in total. The volume of direct investments made by Finland in Estonia has increased year-on-year. Most of the investments have been in property (29%), manufacturing industry (25%) and retail and wholesale (13%).
The position of Estonian direct investments in Finland has also increased strongly in recent years and comprised 589 million euros as of 31 December 2017, which is 9.2% of the Estonian direct investments in foreign countries. The main sectors are financial and insurance activities (37%), the manufacturing industry (21%), and transport and warehousing (15%).

ENTERPRISE ESTONIA, TRADE ASSOCIATION AND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

A representation of Enterprise Estonia has been operating in Helsinki since 2002 and its objective is to introduce the opportunities of Estonia to Finnish investors and to assist the Estonian companies entering the Finnish market. The representation of Enterprise Estonia is located in the Estonian House in Helsinki.

The Finnish-Estonian Trade Association SEKY has been operating in Finland since 1990 and mostly brings together the Finnish companies operating in Estonia and companies potentially interested in Estonia. The main objective of SEKY is to make contacts between the Estonian and Finnish business circles more frequent and to establish  relevant contacts. The Finnish-Estonian Chamber of Commerce, FECC, operates with similar objectives in Estonia, mediating business contacts between the Finnish entrepreneurs and subsidiaries operating in Estonia and Estonian companies and giving information about the Estonian economy to its members.

TOURISM

Finland is the most important tourism partner to Estonia. The majority of visitors from abroad are Finns.
The number of tourists from Finland who used accommodation in 2017 was 916,200 and  they spent 1.7 million nights in Estonia. The share of Finns among all foreign tourists who used accommodation in Estonia comprised 41% (44% in 2016). In addition to Tallinn and Pärnu County, the most popular destinations for Finnish tourists were Tartu County and Saare County.

 

Cultural co-operation

The cultural relations between Estonia and Finland are very close and the number and level of cultural events are remarkable. The Republic of Finland celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017 and the Republic of Estonia celebrated its 100th birthday in 2018. The anniversaries were celebrated in both states with a very diverse programme of cultural events.

The idea to establish the Estonian House in Helsinki came from the desire to support the Estonian nationals living in Finland and companies interested in doing business in Finland. The Viro-keskus, which was opened in 2010, is a ‘new-generation’ Estonian House that brings together the functions of representing Estonia (the Estonian Institute), promoting export and finding investments (Enterprise Estonia) as well as developing estophilia and supporting the adaptation of immigrants (Tuglas Society, Association of Estonian Societies in Finland). The Finnish Institute in Estonia has been working on the development of the cultural and economic relations between Finland and Estonia since 1994.

Active preparations for celebrating Estonia 100 started in 2017. Ambassador Margus Laidre suggested the playful term ‘Estonia-Finland 200’ for celebrating the double jubilees and strengthening the extremely diverse and close ties between the two countries and nations. The design of the symbol was created by design artist Kristjan Mändmaa, who is also the dean of the Design Department at the Estonian Academy of Art.

The biggest and most outstanding event of Estonia-Finland 200 was the two-week tour of the Estonian National Opera to Finland in 2017, which culminated on the gala night held at the Musiikkitalo in Helsinki on 25 November, which was also attended by the presidents of both countries.
The exhibition “Bridge – greetings from Two Republics” at the Virka gallery of the Helsinki City Government, which was open from October 2017 to the end of February 2018, was born from the cooperation between Estonia and Finland. The exhibition marked the hundred-year independence of Estonia and Finland from the viewpoint of the interaction between Estonians and Finns as well as of the independence culture.

The exhibition “City of Light: Estonian Artists in European Cities” was open in the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki in autumn 2017. It was an homage to the passion of Estonian artists of the first half of the 20th century (incl. Andrus Johani, Kristjan Tederi, Aleksander Vardi, Eduard Ole) for art and travelling. The exhibition accompanies the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Finnish-Estonian cultural fund awarded the first symbolic grant of 15,000 euros at the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Convention on Intellectual Cooperation of Estonia and Finland held in Helsinki on 1 December 2017. Over 20 private persons from Estonia and Finland and several organisations have contributed to the initial capital of the fund, which amounts to ca 150,000 euros. The Estonian Government allocated 700,000 euros to the Estonian-Finnish cultural funds from reserves. The Finnish Government supported the cultural fund with 6 million euros. The monetary contributions of the states are proportional to their gross domestic product.

According to the Convention on Intellectual Cooperation (contract for education and cultural cooperation), Finno-Ugrian days are celebrated in Estonia, Finland and Hungary every year on the third weekend of October (the Finno-Ugric peoples living in Russia also joined the tradition after 1991). The world congresses of Finno-Ugric peoples are also very important in terms of the existence and preservation of the Finno-Ugric peoples, their languages and culture. The 7th congress was held from 15 to 17 June 2016 in Lahti and the plan is to hold the 8th congress in the Estonian National Museum in Tartu in 2020.
Estonians from all over the world will gather in 2019 to celebrate their global heritage and culture. ESTO 2019 will take place in Helsinki, Tartu and Tallinn from 28 June to 4 July 2019.

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