The close and friendly ties between Estonia and Latvia are based on our historic and cultural connections, similar foreign policy goals, and our increasingly developing trade and tourism relations. On 21 August 2018 the first joint meeting of the Estonian and Latvian governments was held in Riga.
For the first time Estonia and Latvia exchanged diplomatic representatives already in December 1918. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored on 6 September 1991.
Arti Hilpus is the current Estonian Ambassador to Latvia, having presented his credentials to Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis on 31 July 2018. The Embassy of Latvia in Tallinn is headed by the ambassador Raimonds Jansons since 8 June 2017.
In the current Riigikogu, there is an Estonia-Latvia parliamentary group which is led by Aadu Must and has 13 members.
Over the past years the bilateral relations between Estonia and Latvia have gained a new dimension with the celebration of centenaries of their independence. In 2019 the most important joint celebrations were the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cēsis and 30 years from the Baltic Way.
|December 2019||President Kersti Kaljulaid at the Meeting of the Baltic presidents|
|December 2019||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas at the Meeting of the Baltic Prime Ministers and Ministers in charge of transport|
|November 2019||Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu at the 25th Baltic Council in Riga|
|August 2019||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way|
|June 2019||President Kersti Kaljulaid in Cēsis, 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cēsis|
|June 2019||Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu at the high-level meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in Jūrmala|
|May 2019||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on a working visit|
|November 2018||President Kersti Kaljulaid attended Latvia 100 events in Riga|
|August 2018||Joint meeting of the Governments of Estonia and Latvia|
|February 2018||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|February 2018||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|December 2017||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|September 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser|
|August 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|July 2017||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|June 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser|
|February 2017||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|December 2016||Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser|
|December 2016||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|October 2016||President Kersti Kaljulaid|
|October 2016||Minister of Foreign Affairs Jürgen Ligi|
|August 2016||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|July 2016||President Toomas Hendrik-Ilves|
|April 2016||Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand|
|February 2016||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|February 2020||Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs at the Tartu Peace Treaty 100 events in Tartu|
|July 2019||President Egils Levits|
|July 2019||Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš at the XX Dance Festival|
|June 2019||President Raimonds Vējonis at BALDEFCOL|
|April 2019||State visit of President Raimonds Vējonis, also in the delegation Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs and Minister of Economics Ralfs Nemiro|
|April 2019||Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs for the announcement of the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian language award|
|February 2019||Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš|
|June 2018||President Raimonds Vējonis at the Estonia 100 celebration in Tartu, at the Baltic Students' Song and Dance Festival "Gaudeamus"|
|June 2018||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis at the 9th Annual Forum of the EUSBSR|
|February 2018||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|December 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|August 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|June 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs|
|May 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs for the announcement of the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian translation award|
|May 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|January 2017||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis|
|November 2016||President Raimonds Vējonis|
|July 2016||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis on a working visit|
|March 2016||Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis on a working visit|
Cooperation between local governments on the Estonian and Latvian border has been functioning for years. In 2004, the Estonian-Latvian Intergovernmental Commission was established to further enhance the cross-border cooperation. In the framework of the commission four working groups were formed and tasked to prepare a cross-border cooperation strategy which would enable to develop Estonian-Latvian cooperation within EU border cooperation programmes, to create a favourable environment for enterprise in the border regions and to facilitate the border-crossing procedure.
The four working groups focus on the following areas: social and medical services; transport, energy and environmental protection; education, tourism and sports; and the transport and taxation of people working across the border.
The last meeting of the Estonia-Latvia intergovernmental commission took place on 6 November 2019 in Riga. The public health and health-related public services, taxation, rail traffic and land roads continue to remain important topics for the cross-border cooperation. The next meeting of the Estonian-Latvian intergovernmental commission will take place in Estonia in November 2020.
The European Union also supports cooperation between border areas through territorial cooperation programmes. The Estonia-Latvia Programme 2012-2020 will receive 38 MEUR from the European Regional Development Fund to initiate joint projects in the focus areas entrepreneurship, heritage, tourism, environmental awareness, water management, small harbours, labor commuters, Valga-Valka center (www.estlat.eu).
FUTURE COOPERATION REPORT
In June 2007, the Estonian and Latvian Prime Ministers launched the idea for an Estonia-Latvia future cooperation report that would outline development directions in the various fields of cooperation between the two countries. This task was assigned to two rapporteurs: Anvar Samost on the Estonian side and Andris Razans on the Latvian side, who presented their report to Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis on June 11, 2010. Estonia-Latvia Future Cooperation Report (PDF).
Defence cooperation takes place mainly in the Baltic format (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), based on the agreement concluded by the Ministers of Defence on 12 February 1995.
The most important cooperation formats are NATO Baltic air policing, BALTDEFCOL, BALTBAT and joint participation in exercises. In October 2019, the three Baltic Ministers of Defence signed a renewed agreement of joint air surveillance and control system BALTNET.
Estonia contributes to the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga. Latvia is a member of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. In March 2019, the Headquarters Multinational Division North East (MND NE) was inaugurated in Ādaži. The purpose of MND NE is to enhance the defence capability of the region and connect the region’s forces with the Alliance’s highest Command Structure. The framework countries are Estonia, Latvia and Denmark.
Bilateral relations between Estonia and Latvia, primarily economic relations, are regulated by EU internal market rules as of 1 May 2004. The majority of agreements between Estonia and Latvia have been concluded trilaterally between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
An overview of agreements signed between Estonia and Latvia:
- Agreement on the Renewal of the State Border and the Additional Protocol (came into force 13.09.93);
- Agreement on Organising Common Border Control (came into force 30.08.94);
- Agreement on the Activities of Border Representatives (came into force 30.08.94);
- Air Services Agreement (came into force 01.02.96);
- Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (came into force 23.05.96);
- Agreement on the Maritime Delimitation in the Gulf of Riga, the Strait of Irbe and the Baltic Sea (came into force 10.10.96);
- Agreement Regarding Border Points (came into force 21.10.96);
- Agreement on Social Security (came into force 29.01.97);
- Agreement on the Assessment of the Transboundary Effects on the Environment (came into force 14.03.97);
- Agreement on the Transfer of the Right of Use of a Plot (came into force 28.06.99);
- Framework Agreement on Mutual Assistance in the Event of Disasters (came into force 19.06.02);
- Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 21.11.02);
- Agreement on Railroad Transport (came into force 16.05.04);
- Agreement on the Terms of the Use and Maintenance of the Valga1/Valka2 Joint Border Crossing Point (came into force 21.05.04);
- Agreement on mutually storing crude oil and oil products (came into force 06.08.09);
- Agreement of the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information (came into force 20.07.11).
- Agreement on the Exchange of Data from the Population Register (came into force 17.01.19)
- Agreement on changing the agreement on mutual representation in visa matters (came into force 02.02.2020)
In recent years, Latvia has been Estonia’s third trading partner, being a steadily growing export market for our products, as well as services. In 2018, the export of Estonian goods to Latvia amounted to 47%.Latvia was also third among export markets at 9.6%.
In 2018, the import of Latvian products to Estonia amounted to 8,5% of total imports (the sixth import partner for Estonia).
Estonia-Latvia trade 2014-2019 first half (million euros):
|Year||Turnover||Export||Percentage of total export %||Import||Percentage of total import %|
|2019 first half||1392.9||669.4||9.2||723.5||9.0|
All economic figures originate from the Statistical Office of Estonia.
Primary articles of export in 2018:
- Mineral products - 24%
- Transport vehicles - 16%
- Machinery and mechanical equipment - 10%
- Prepared food prducts - 9%
Primary articles of import in 2018:
- Machinery and equipment - 20%
- Metals and metal products - 10%
- Prepared food prducts ja beverages - 9%
- Mineral products - 8%
As of 31 March 2019, Estonian companies had invested 2 billion euros in Latvia, which makes up 24% of all direct investments made in foreign countries. At the same time Latvian direct investments in Estonia made up 3% of direct investments in Estonia, with a total value of 688 million euros.
On 18 April 2007, the Estonian Business Chamber in Latvia (www.eesti.lv) was established in Riga. It was the first association of Estonian companies and investors established outside of Estonia.
The interest of Latvian tourists towards Estonia has gradually increased. When in 2015, almost 128 thousand Latvian tourists were accommodated in Estonia, in 2018 the number was already 163 thousand (7.6% of all tourists) . Popular travel destinations among Latvian tourists in addition to Tallinn are Pärnu,Tartu and Saaremaa.
The cultural and educational contacts between Estonia and Latvia have been traditionally very frequent. Already in the 19th century some of Estonia’s future statesmen and intellectuals were educated at the Seminary of Janis Cimze, the Higher Technical School of Riga and the Ecclesiastical Seminary of Riga. In recent days this kind of cross-border study contacts have been advanced further thanks to the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Documents Certifying Higher Education signed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2000. The Stockholm School of Economics in Riga has developed into one of the most popular educational institutions for Estonians.
There is an Estonian-Latvian Institute in Valga, which among other activities also teaches the Latvian language. In close co-operation, the Estonian and Latvian language experts have composed a new Latvian-Estonian and Estonian-Latvian dictionary. The presentation of the dictionary in Riga on 11 May 2015 was attended also by the presidents of both countries Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Mr. Andris Berzinš.
The Latvian Estonian Society was restored in 1988 as the legal successor to the Estonian Society of Education and Assistance, which was established in Riga in 1908. The Riga Estonian School restarted its work in 1989 and currently offers education as the secondary school to 170 students. The school, which is financed by the Latvian state, conducts most of its studies in Latvian; however, the Estonian language, culture and regional studies are also taught there. Estonia has provided the school with support over the years, mainly in the form of study materials and computers but also by sending Estonian language teachers.
On 18 February 2009, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Latvian Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš signed an agreement establishing the Estonian-Latvian and Latvian-Estonian Translation Award. The award which goal was to emphasise the importance of the Estonian and Latvian languages and of cultural exchange was first given on March 10, 2010 to Latvian translator Maima Grinberga. In 2015, the Estonian and Latvian Ministers of Foreign Affairs decided to expand the scope of the award and signed on July 3, 2015 a new statute. In addition to the translations of literature the new statute, enables, also to submit translations from other fields, such as politics, science, art, history and sociology. Language teachers and linguists from Estonian and Latvian schools and universities, who have contributed to the promotion of the Estonian and Latvian languages in both countries in the last year may also be nominated for the award.
On 10 April 2019, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs announced in Tallinn the latest winner of the Estonian-Latvian language award Guntars Godiņš for his translation of the Estonian epic „Kalevipoeg“.
In April 2018, the joint exhibition „Symbolism of the Baltic States“ was opened at Orsay Museum in Paris. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were also the London Book Fair Market Focus in 2018.
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