|-||Co-operation in the field of research and technology|
France recognised Estonia on 26 January 1921. The cornerstone of Estonia-France relations is France’s recognition of the Republic of Estonia’s legal standing—they never recognised the Soviet Union’s occupation of Estonia. France re-stated its recognition on 25 August 1991 on the occasion of Estonia’s re-independence. Diplomatic relations were re-established on 30 August, 1991.
Bilateral political relations between Estonia and France are good and traditionally active. Regular and effective dialogue takes place between the two countries.
French Ambassadors to Estonia
The current French ambassador to Estonia is Eric Lamouroux who presented his credentials to the President of the Republic of Estonia on 19 September 2019.
Estonian Ambassadors to France
The first Estonian ambassador in France was Karl Robert Pusta from 1918/1921 – 1932.
1993-1997 Andres Tomasberg
1998-2001 Ruth Lausma-Luik
2002-2006 Andres Talvik
2006-2010 Margus Rava
Estonian Ambassador Alar Streimann presented his credentials to the President of the Republic of France, François Hollande, on 8 September 2015.
Estonia has seven honorary consuls in France: Hugues Pouzet in Lyon, Hélène Berdoy-Mayer in Toulouse, Laurence Charbonnier in Nancy, Nathalie Vidal in Lille, Christian de Barillon in Bordeaux, Christian Guellerin in Nantes, and Dominique Angles in Marseilles.
The Estonia-France parliamentary group in the Riigikogu has 14 members and is chaired by Andres Herkel. The Estonia-France friendship group in the French National Assembly is led by Laure de La Raudière and the French-Baltic friendship group in the Senate is led by Olivier Henno, the Estonian vice-president is Joël Bigot.
|June 2018||Minister of Defence Jüri Luik at the 2018 Eurosatory Defence and Security International Exhibition in Paris|
|April 2018||President Kersti Kaljulaid attending the opening of the exhibit "Wild Souls. Symbolism in the Baltic States" at the Musée d'Orsay, followed by a visit to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and Lyon|
|March 2018||Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo in France to sign an agreement on digital cooperation with France's Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi|
|December 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Paris attending the One Planet Summit|
|June 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, visiting with a business delegation and meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron|
|June 2017||Commander of the Defence Forces, General Riho Terras on a visit to Paris|
|January 2017||Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski, meeting with the French Minister of Labour Myriam El Khormi and participating in the OECD Health Committee Ministerial meeting|
|December 2016||President Kersti Kaljulaid, meeting with the French President Francois Holland and participating in the Open Government Partnership Global Summit 2016|
|November 2016||Minister for Foreign Affairs Jürgen Ligi, speaking at a conference dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between France and the Baltic states|
|June 2016||Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand, meeting with the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault|
|May 2016||Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, meeting with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian|
|January 2016||Minister of Entrepreneurship Liisa Oviir|
|February 2015||Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling at the signing of the Accession Agreement to the ESA Convention|
|December 2014||Minister of Culture Urve Tiidus opening the Estonian cultural festival in Nantes "eLU-Vivre l'Estonie à Nantes"|
|July 2014||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|April 2013||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, meeting with the president of the French National Assembly Claude Bartolone.|
|January 2013||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, meeting with French President François Hollande|
|December 2011||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|November 2011||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|October 2011||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|October 2011||Minister of Culure Rein Lang opening the Estonian cultural festival in Paris|
|September 2011||Minister of Defence Mart Laar at the signing of the bilateral defence co-operation agreement|
|September 2010||Minister of Culture Laine Jänes|
|September 2010||Riigikogu Speaker Ene Ergma at the signing of the co-operation agreement between the European Space Agency and Estonia|
|May 2010||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip in Paris, meeting with French Prime Minister François Fillon|
|February 2010||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the opening of the honorary consulate in Bordeaux|
|September 2009||Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma at the colloquium in the French Senate celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Baltic Way|
|February 2009||Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma at a meeting of speakers of EU member states|
|July 2018||Minister for Public Action and Accounts Gérard Darmanin meeting with Estonian Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi and Minister of Finance Toomas Tõniste|
|September 2017||President Emmanuel Macron attending the Tallinn Digital Summit, meeting with President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|June 2017||Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau and Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi|
|June 2017||Prime Minister Édouard Philippe|
|May 2017||Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire|
|May 2016||Minister for European Affairs Harlem Désir|
|March 2015||Minister of Finance Michel Sapin|
|March 2014||Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian|
|October 2013||Minister Delegate with responsibility for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Innovation and the Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin|
|September 2012||Minister for European Affairs Bernard Cazeneuve|
|June 2011||Minister for European Affairs Laurent Wauquiez|
|January 2011||Secretary of State for Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry Pierre Lellouche at the signing of the agreement between Alstom and Eesti Energia|
|April 2010||French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner at the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn|
|February 2010||Secretary of State for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche|
|June 2008||Minister of Energy Jean-Louis Borloo|
|May 2008||Prime Minister François Fillon|
|May 2008||Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans Jean-Marie Bockel|
|March 2008||Minister of Agriculture Michel Barnier|
|November 2007||Minister of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet|
|June 2006||President of the Senate Christian Poncelet|
The more important agreements signed by the two countries are as follows:
- Agreement on Mutual Understanding, Friendship and Co-operation (came into force 27.04.1995);
- Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 25.09.1995);
- Agreement on Abolishment of Visa Requirements (came into force 01.03.1999);
- Agreement on Readmission of Persons (came into force 15.04.1999);
- Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 01.05.2001, redaction came into force 01.06.2002);
- Agreement on the Status and Activities of Cultural Institutes (came into force 01.09.2005).
- Agreement on the Exchange of Young Specialists (came into force 01.03.2007)
- Agreement on visa representation between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of France (came into force 03.12.2010)
- Co-operation agreement between the Estonian Information System Authority (RIA) and the French Network and Information Security Agency (ANSSI) (signed 9.11.2010)
- Bilateral defence co-operation agreement (came into force 1.01.2012)
- Bilateral technical arrangement in the area of cyber defence (May 2016)
- Film cooperation agreement (signed 28.04.2017)
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia and the Minister of State for the Digital Sector of France on cooperation in the field of e-governance and digital economy (19.04.2018)
The economic relations between France and Estonia are developing stably. The trade turnover between Estonia and France has steadily risen during the last years and reached 661.7 million euros in 2019.
In 2019, Estonia's exports to France amounted to €309M, making it the 12th largest export partner in the world. Compared to the previous year, exports from Estonia to France experienced growth at an annualized rate of 1.25%, from €305M in 2018 to €309M in 2019. Most recently, exports were led by nitrogenous fertilizers, which represent 11.7% of the total exports to France, followed by communication equipment, which account for 8.33%.
In 2019, Estonia's imports from France ammounted to €352M, making it the 12th largest import partner in the world. Compared to the previous year, imports from France to Estonia experienced growth at an annualized rate of 7.79%, from €327M in 2018 to €352M in 2019. Most recently, imports were led by cars, which represent 24.4% of the total imports from France, followed by trucks, which account for 24.4%.
Estonia-France trade from 2012-2019 (in millions of euros):
|Year||Export||Share of total exports||Import||Share of total imports||Turnover||Share of total turnover|
All economic figures originate from the Statistics Estonia
As of 31.12.2019, French direct investments to Estonia amounted to 420.7 million euros, which represent approximately 1.7% of all direct investments to Estonia. Most of the investments were in real estate, financial and insurance activities and manufacturing.
By the end of 2019, Estonian investments in France amounted to 64.7 million euros, which represent approximately 0.7% of all direct investments abroad. The biggest investments were in real estate and manufacturing.
In 2019, there were 287 companies with French participation registered in Estonia.
France remains a popular destination for Estonian tourists. In 2019, the total number of visits by Estonian tourists to France was 116 361. 94.6% of them were overnight visits.
The number of French tourists in Estonia is growing consistently. In 2019, the total number of visits by French tourists to Estonia was 88 470. 67.6% of them were overnight visits.
Defence cooperation between Estonia and France has increased remarkably in recent years. The two countries cooperate closely both bilaterally and multilaterally. Bilateral cooperation is based on the intergovernmental defence cooperation treaty made between Estonia and France in 2011. Multilateral cooperation mostly takes place within the scope of the European Union and NATO. The main areas of cooperation are international operations and cyber defence. It also involves regular security policy consultations.
At the NATO summit held in Warsaw in 2016, France announced that it was going to participate in the enhanced presence of allies on the Eastern flank of NATO within the scope of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP). France participated in eFP in Estonia in 2017 in cooperation with the United Kingdom and has decided to return to Estonia within the scope of eFP in 2019.
France is one of the most important supporters of the Baltic air-policing mission organised by NATO. France has participated in Baltic air-policing since 2007 and in 2018, it is being done for the first time from the Ämari air base in Estonia.
France has participated in many projects aimed at helping the Baltic States in the area of defence, such as BALTRON and BALTSEA, and supported French language training in the Estonian Defence Forces. France is one of the most important procurement partners to Estonia.
The main contact between Estonia and France in the framework of operations has been in Mali since 2013, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali as well as the European Union Training Mission (EUTM). The Estonian ship protection team served on many French vessels as part of the European Union Naval Force Operation ATALANTA and the cooperation was very successful. Cooperation within the scope of EU missions strengthened in 2014 when the Estonian unit of approximately 50 men served as part of EUFOR RCA in Bangui, the Central African Republic.
Estonia is making preparations for participating with a unit the size of an infantry platoon in operation Barkhane in Mali, which is led by France, from the second half of 2018. The fact that Estonia is the only country among the Central and Eastern European countries that was invited to join the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) shows how good the bilateral relations are.
Bilateral cyber cooperation between the two countries is very close. It is based on the technical cooperation agreement for cyber security signed in 2016 in order to strengthen cooperation in the area of cyber security. France has entered into similar agreements with just three countries - the US, the UK and now Estonia. In addition to this, a framework agreement for mutual cooperation was entered into in 2018 between the Estonian Defence Industry Association and the Pôle d’excellence cyber, which is based in Bretagne, France, to increase cooperation between research institutions and small companies.
In March 2011 Estonian Minister of Research and Education Tõnis Lukas and French Ambassador to Estonia Frédéric Billet signed an administrative agreement. The French-Estonian Hubert Curien (G.F. Parrot) partnership created with the agreement will provide funding for two years for the research projects of French and Estonian researchers, support co-operation between the research teams of both countries, and allow researchers to join the other country’s research team, all through systematic bilateral funding. This kind of co-operation has been taking place for short-term cycles since 2002.
Estonian upper secondary school graduates have been able to take the DELF scolaire test at B1 and B2 proficiency levels since 2014. Students are also offered the opportunity to take tests at the A proficiency levels on the basis of the agreement made between the Ministry of Education and Research (MER), the Innovea Foundation and the Embassy of the Republic of France.
The MER cooperates with the French Institute in the promotion of French language training. The activities in the Estonian Foreign Languages Strategy 2009-2017 have included support for early French language training, promotion of cooperation between teachers of French and support for the compilation of a comprehensive Estonian-French dictionary.
It is possible to study Estonian language and culture within the framework of the Programme of Academic Studies of Estonian Language and Culture Abroad at 30 institutions of higher education, including at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) in France. Estonia has sent a lecturer of Estonian language and culture to INALCO and it is possible to study Estonian as a speciality at the university (linguistic courses are also offered in addition to practical language lessons). The Estonian language can also be studied in Sunday school format at the Estonian School in Paris (http://oppevara.estinst.ee/keskused/koolid/pariisi-eesti-kool/) and the Estonian School in Strasbourg (http://oppevara.estinst.ee/keskused/koolid/ecole-estonienne-de-strasbourg/). Whilst the target group of the training at universities is mainly local French students, the training at schools is mainly aimed at children of Estonian origin.
Estonia has Observer status at the International Organisation of la Francophonie (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, OIF) since 2010. In the framework of a co-operation agreement between Estonia and la Francophonie, Estonian civil servants benefited from French courses organized with the financial support of la Francophonie and in co-operation with France, the Federation Wallonia-Brussels and Luxembourg in the period 2012-2014.
Cultural cooperation between Estonia and France is very active. Estonian culture in France is represented by the cultural adviser of the embassy, who has been in office since 2007, and a branch of the Estonian Institute operated in Paris from 2001-2008. There are also a number of friendship societies at the local level that regularly help to organise events that introduce Estonia. Excellent partners in introducing the Estonian culture are the twin cities of Estonia (Võru’s twin Chambrey-les Tours, Saue’s twin Quincy-Sous-Sénart, Maardu’s twin Seyne-sur-Mer, Tallinn City Centre’s twin Carcassonne), the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO), the France-Estonie Society and the honorary consuls of Estonia in France.
A large Estonian culture festival called Estonie Tonique was held in Paris and the Paris region in 2011. More than 200 Estonian performers visited Paris over the course of two months and close to fifty events took place: concerts, exhibitions, theatre performances, film screenings, conferences and literary evenings. The festival was organised by the Estonian and French ministries of foreign affairs and ministries of culture, and the programme was carried out by the French Institute and the Estonian Embassy in Paris. This is the biggest festival of Estonian culture in a foreign country so far.
The multidisciplinary festival of Estonian culture titled eLU - Vivre l'Estonie à Nantes was held in Nantes, Western France, at the end of 2014. The partner that helped to organise the festival was the LU (Le Lieu Unique) centre for arts and culture. The festival programme was very innovative and the French partner selected several artists who were unknown to French audience to perform at the festival. All in all, the festival offered a great selection of Estonian culture over a period of two weeks, including classical and jazz music, theatre, animation and feature films, literature and architecture.
A week introducing Seto culture took place in Paris in autumn 2015. The National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO), the France-Estonie Association and the Estonian Embassy in France organised the week to give French audiences the chance to participate in different events, for example science conference, music and dance nights, and Seto cuisine and handicraft workshops, introducing the Seto culture.
In 2016, Estonia and Finland were the focus countries of the biggest festival of Nordic culture, Les Boréales. Before that, Estonia was a guest country at the festival in 2002. The festival lasted for about ten days and was held in Caen, Normandy, in November. The focus of the festival has traditionally been on literature, so mainly the works of Estonian writers were introduced in 2002 and 2016. There were many literary events such as meetings with Mehis Heinsaar, Katrina Kalda, and children’s writer Piret Raud, who introduced her books at local schools, and readings of Andrus Kivirähk’s works, etc. Other forms of art were represented as well – Estonian music, visual arts, film, design and architecture.
Estonia held the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe in the second half of 2016 and offered a cultural programme in Strasbourg and Alsace over a period of six months. The programme once again included events from choral music to street art.
The cultural events of 2017 and 2018 tie together the cultural programme of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union of 2017 as well as the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia (Estonia 100). The Estonian presidency was marked by several big projects in Paris: Creative Culture, a project at the reputable Cité de la Mode et du Design in Paris lasted for several months and showcased Estonian culture and lifestyle; and Gifts from Estonia, a weekend of Estonian performance arts in the Nanterre-Amandiers centre for modern theatre near Paris and elsewhere. Estonians cooperated with important French festivals and cultural institutions (Jazzycolors, Jazz sur la Ville, Rencontres Internationales, Etonnants voyageurs and others), which helped showcase a very broad selection of Estonian culture from ultra-modern (street artist Edward von Lõngus) to cultural heritage (Setos).
A high-level history conference titled “Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 100”, organised in cooperation with the Latvian and Lithuanian embassies, took place in March 2018 in Paris at the Senate. Events dedicated to Estonia 100 in Paris and France represented all areas of culture. The exhibition “Wild Souls: Symbolism in Baltic Art”, which opened at Musée d’Orsay in Paris on 9 April, was certainly the highlight of Estonia100 celebrations. Altogether, 150 works by the most important artists in the Baltic art history from the late 19th century to the 1930s were displayed at the exhibition organised by four Baltic museums and the Musée d’Orsay. The exhibition was accompanied by the festival of Baltic culture held from 22 to 27 May, with rich programme including events from Estonian folklore to electronic music. The programme included concerts by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, mixed youth choir Vox Populi, and Noëp, conferences of history and art, literary and film events, exhibitions of photos and modern art and much more.
Estonian musicians have been appreciated in France for many years and performances of Estonian music (primarily Pärt, Tüür, Tormis, Seppar, Kõrvits, Tulve and others) have found their places in the repertoire of many French collectives. Conductors Kristjan and Paavo Järvi regularly work with renowned French orchestras. Conductor Vello Pähn regularly conducs ballets at Opéra Garnier, and Vox Clamantis and Neeme Järvi have been guests of the famous music festival La Folle Journée de Nantes and other festivals for years. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Ansambel U: and many others regularly perform in different regions of France. Tommy Cash, Noëp, Maarja Nuut, Mari Kalkun, various Seto choirs and many other pop and folk music artists have found great success with their concerts.
Estonian literature and poetry have reached the French readers thanks to the long and committed work of Antoine Chalvin, Luc Moreau, Jean-Pascal Ollivry, Eva Toulouze and many others. The Estonian national epic Kalevipoeg was published in French in 2004, translated by Antoine Chalvin. The works of Tõnu Õnnepalu, Jaan Kross, Jaan Kaplinski, Viivi Luik, Arvo Valton, Andrei Ivanov, Karl Ristikivi, Andrus Kivirähk, Mehis Heinsaar, Doris Kareva, Indrek Hargla and others have also been translated into French. From 2008-2010, publishing house Gaia published the five volumes of Truth and Justice by Tammsaare. Many books by Katrina Kalda, a young Estonian author who writes in French, have been published since 2010. Piret Raud is certainly the most translated Estonian children’s author in France, but translations of the works of Kairi Look and Indrek Koff have also been published recently. Estonian writers and translators alike have received many awards – Sofi Oksanen’s Purge, which was published by Stock, has won significant recognition as well as the reputable French literary prize, the prix Femina étranger, in 2010. Kivirähk’s novel The Man Who Spoke Snakish (L’Homme qui savait la langue des serpents), translated in 2013, managed to achieve the status of a bestseller in France. Estonian authors regularly receive invitations to literary festivals like Les Boréales in Caen, the Literature Night in Paris, Etonnants Voyageurs in St-Malo, Quai du Polar in Lyon, etc., and attend literature fairs.
Estonian films are regularly represented at the largest film festivals, such as the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the Rouen Nordic Film Festival, the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Many Estonian films have been screened in France, and many have been made as co-productions. Both feature and animated films have won recognition at international festivals. Well-known Estonian film-makers are Ilmar Raag, Veino Õunpuu, Priit Pärn and Riho Unt. Martti Helde’s In the Crosswind (La croisée des vents), which premiered in 2014, proved to be extremely successful. In addition to film festivals, Estonian films are also shown at various multi-disciplinary festivals (eLu – Vivre l’Estonie à Nantes, Les Boréales, Europe autour de l’Europe and many others).
A film cooperation agreement was signed between France and Estonia in 2017, which makes cooperation between the filmmakers of the two countries easier, as the agreement regulates the organisational and legal issues of national co-production.
French audiences have been able to enjoy the performances of Estonian theatres Theatrum, NO99 and the Kanuti Guild HALL. Theatre NO99 was the first Estonian theatre invited to the Avignon Festival in 2015 with its production My Wife Got Angry. Said theatres have performed in Paris (Estonie Tonique), Nantes (eLU – Vivre l´Estonie à Nantes), Avignon (Festival d´Avignon), Bordeaux (Festival Le FAB) and Nanterre. The weekend of Estonian theatre titled “Gifts from Estonia” was organised by Nanterre-Amandiers and Kanuti Guild HALL in late 2017.
Art and Photography
Starting with Eduard Wiiralt, many Estonian artists have studied in Paris or found their homes in France: sculptor Maire Männik, for example, studied at Académie de la Grande Chaumière and École des Beaux-Arts and created the best part of her works in France. Many other Estonian artists across several generations have done the same. Rein Tammik, Kaia Kiik and Aire Goutt-Allikmets, Irina Bellaye and Helina Rääk, and many others are working as artists in France today. The biggest event of all times showcasing Estonian art in France is certainly the exhibition “Wild Souls: Symbolism in Baltic Art” organised in the framework of Estonia100 at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in the first half of 2018. Altogether, 150 works of the most important artists in the Baltic art history from the late 19th century to the 1930s are displayed at the exhibition organised by four Baltic museums and MO.
Estonian nature and culture have inspired many French photographers – the photos of Estonia by Raphaël Gianelli-Meriano and Jérémie Jung have been shown at several exhibitions, and Jung’s photos depicting the Seto and Kihnu cultures have been mentioned in different photography magazines.
Paris is also becoming increasingly more like home to Estonian fashion designers, who show their works at Paris fashion weeks and other events showcasing fashion and jewellery. Marit Ilison, Ragne Kikas, Katrin Viirpalu, Roberta Einer, Jo Nurm, Liina Stein and many others have worked in Paris.
Estonian design is also increasingly more appreciated in France. The works of Estonian designers have been exhibited at the Paris Design Week for years, and the Estonian design exhibition “Size Doesn’t Matter” has run in several cities.
The biggest Estonian design and lifestyle exhibition in France was opened in December 2017 at the Cité de la Mode et du Design in Paris. The exhibition gave a detailed overview of Estonian design and (ethical) fashion; innovation and sustainable development were the keywords in the case of the architectural installation and street art projects shown at the exhibition.
The exhibition “The Old and the New in Contemporary Estonian Architecture”, which showcases the use of the old in modern architecture, has received a lot of feedback. The exhibition has been shown in Paris, Nantes, Strasbourg and Carcassonne, and it also includes seminars by Estonian specialists for French students of architecture.
The Estonian National Museum, which opened in 2016, was designed by the architects of the French firm DGT (Lina Ghotmeh, Dan Dorell and Tsuyoshi Tane). The building has won many international awards, including the Grand Prix AFEX.
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