Although Estonia and Spain are located in different parts of Europe and may at first glance appear very different, they actually share many common characteristics. Spain consistently supported Estonia’s endeavours to join the EU and NATO. Economic reforms have been quite similar in both countries, insofar as both states have strived to diminish state interference in the economy while expanding the role of the private sector. The keywords are openness, liberalisation and reduction of the tax burden; the preferred areas of development are IT and new technologies.
The Kingdom of Spain recognised the Republic of Estonia on 25 March 1921. Estonia’s first Ambassador to Spain, Karl Robert Pusta, was appointed to the post in 1928 and he resided permanently in Paris. Spain renewed its recognition of the Republic of Estonia on 27 August 1991 and diplomatic relations were restored on 10 September 1991.
Spain opened its embassy in Tallinn in March 2004. The Spanish ambassador to Estonia, Teresa Orjales Vidal, presented her credentials to President Kersti Kaljulaid on March 21 2017.
Estonia opened its Embassy in Madrid in June 1997. As of 5th of September 2019, Estonia's Ambassador to Spain is Mariin Ratnik.
Estonia has seven honorary consuls in Spain: Josep Luis Rovira and David Rovira in the region of Catalonia (Barcelona), Fernando Franco Fernàndez in the region of Andalusia (Seville), Sergio Tadeo Benitez in the Canary Islands, José Vicente Morata Estragués in Valencia, Tomás Antón Lorca in Galicia (Ferrol) and Isidoro Alejandro Beltrán de Heredia Dreyfus in the Basque Country.
The first Spain-Estonia friendship group was created in the Parliament of Estonia in 1994. The currently elected members of parliament formed the Spain-Estonia friendship group in April 2011 and elected Remo Holsmer as Chairman.
|June 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|January 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser at the Second Union of the Mediterranean Regional Forum in Barcelona; as well as meeting with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis|
|November 2015||Defence Minister Hannes Hanso on a visit. Participated in the NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2015 DV Day and met with Spain's Defence Minister Pedro Morenés Eluate.|
|Aprill 2015||Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus at a Southern Partnership meeting in Barcelona|
|September 2014||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on a working visit|
|December 2009||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on a working visit|
|February 2009||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on an official visit|
|July 2007||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a state visit, with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Cultural Minister Laine Jänes in the delegation|
|October 2006||Minister of Agriculture Ester Tuiksoo|
|February 2004||Prime Minister Juhan Parts participated in a summit of the Right Wing and Christian Democrat Parties Alliance leaders, within the framework of which he met with Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|June 2002||President of the Riigikogu Toomas Savi participated in a conference of the EU and candidate countries’ parliament leaders|
|February 2000||Prime Minister Mart Laar participated in a forum of conservative parties in Madrid entitled “Europa 2010” and met with Prime Minister José María Aznar|
|November 1998||President Lennart Meri opened the Estonian Embassy in Madrid and met with Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|April 2017||Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfonso Dastis on a visit to Estonia|
|February 2015||Minister of Defence Pedro Morenés Eulate|
|October 2013||Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel García-Margallo|
|June 2011||State Secretary for EU Affairs Diego López Garrido|
|May 2009||King of Spain Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia on a state visit, with Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in the delegation|
|September 2006||Minister of Defence José Antonio Alonso Suįrez|
|July 2006||State Secretary for the European Union Affairs Alberto Navarro Gonzàlez|
|May 2006||Speaker of the Upper Chamber of the Spanish Parliament Javier Rojo|
|May 2006||Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos|
|September 2003||State Secretary for EU Affairs Ramón de Miguel Egea|
|September 2001||Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|April 2001||Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Piqué i Camps|
The following agreements have been signed between Estonia and Spain:
- Agreement to amend the agreement on the protection of classified information (came into force 14.01.2011);
- Joint declaration for strengthening co-operation between the foreign ministries (04.05.2009).
- Agreement on visa representation between Estonia and Spain (came into force 29.04.2009);
- Agreement on co-operation in culture and education (came into force 07.11.2007);
- Agreement on the protection of classified information (came into force 26.01.2007);
- Agreement on the avoidance of Double Taxation (came into force 01.01.05);
- Agreement on Extradition of Criminals (came into force 07.02.00);
- Agreement on the Readmission of Individuals (came into force 07.02.00);
- Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements (came into force 30.01.00);
- Protocol for Co-operation between the ministries of defence (came into force 24.11.1999);
- Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 01.07.98);
- Agreement on International Road Transport (came into force 24.11.97);
In May 2017, Spain took over the role of policing Baltic airspace from Ämari, Estonia. Spain participated in strengthening the Baltic Air Policing Mission from January to April 2015 from Ämari Air Base in Estonia and in the regular rotation in Šiauliai from January to April in 2016. Spain was deployed in the Baltic air surveillance rotation in 2006 as well.
Spain is one of the founding members of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre in Estonia and two experts from Spain (one soldier and one civilian specialist) began working at the centre in August of 2008.
A Baltic-Spain security and defence policy seminar was held for the first time in 2009 in Riga, then in Madrid in February of 2013, and in Riga in May of 2015.
Spain has appointed a defence attaché to Estonia, who resides in Warsaw. No defence attaché has been appointed by Estonia at present.
Estonia-Spain trade 2012-2018 (millions of euros):
*Import according to sending nation
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
In 2018, Spain was Estonia’s 19th largest trade partner, making up 1% of Estonia’s total trade.
Estonia’s main exports to Spain are machinery and equipment, timber and wood products, plant products, vehicles, means of transportation and chemical products.
Estonia’s main imports from Spain include vehicles, means of transportation, ready-made food and drink, textile products, machinery and equipment and plant products.
|Direct investments from Spain 2010-2018 (millions of euros)|
Source: Bank of Estonia
As of 31.12.2018, Spanish direct investments to Estonia amounted to 77.3 million euros, which represent approximately 0.4% of all direct investments to Estonia. Most of the investments were in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, real estate and finance and insurance. The largest Spanish-owned company in Estonia is Fersa Energias Renovables SA. One of the biggest investments done by Spain is Marbella Club Hotel SA in the tourism sector, who bought the Schlössle Hotel Group AS.
By the end of 2018, Estonian investments in Spain amounted to 123 million euros. The biggest investments were in real estate, finance and insurance, and wholesale and retail trade.
Spain remains a popular destination for Estonian tourists, although more frequent and direct flight connections would certainly further improve this.
In 2018, the total number of visits by Estonian tourists to Spain was 84 536. The average stay lasted for 7 days.
According to Statistics Estonia, the number of Spanish tourists in Estonia is growing consistently, probably as the result of Spanish economic growth as well as interest in new, historically exciting and safe destinations. Naturally, Estonia’s accession to the European Union in 2004 provided a strong impetus for the increase of tourism and a new growth in the number of Spanish tourists came in 2011, when Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture.
In 2018, the total number of Spanish visits to Estonia was 119 582 - a slight decrease from the year before - 121 205. The average visit was 3 days long.
Estonian and Spanish cultural relations are strong and dynamic. Interest in Spanish language and culture is constantly growing in Estonia. Since 1992, it has been possible to study Spanish language as an entire course of study at Tartu University, and in 2002 it became possible to study Spanish at Tallinn University. Spanish language instruction at both universities was made possible by extremely strong support from the Spanish Embassy. Tartu University has an agreement for exchange of instructors and students in higher courses with Granada University, and student exchange occurs with Oviedo University and Las Palmas University. Many Spanish language instructors have gained experiences in Spain thanks to grants given by Spain. Employees of various government offices have used this opportunity as well. Since 2003, it has been possible to take the DELE (Spanish as a foreign language) exam at Tallinn University. There is an active Spanish language and cultural center, Hispaania Maja (Spanish House), and MTÜ Centro Picasso in Tallinn.
After the opening of the Spanish Embassy in Tallinn (2004), numerous events introducing Spanish culture have taken place in Estonia. There have been multiple art exhibitions, Spanish films have been screened in different theatres, Spanish dance introduced through dance performances, and many different kinds of concerts held. Every spring the Spanish Embassy leads the organising of the Ibero-American Culture Festival "Iberofest" in Estonia. The Estonian Embassy in Madrid works actively to introduce Estonian culture in Spain.
In September 2016 Maarja Nuut held concerts in Tenerife and Madrid. In the same month, Maren Ülevain’s and Maria Bachmann’s concert took place in the hall of Centro Cultural de los Ejércitos in Madrid. They played Schumann, Strauss, Kapp, Saar, Mägi, Sumera, de Falla and García Lorca.
In October the Estonian folk music band Trad.Attack! performed at the most important world music and showcase festival WOMEX in Santiago de Compostela.
- In 2006, the VIII International Folk Singing Competition took place in Barcelona. The Tallinn University Chamber Choir won first place, and Tallinn’s Kaarli Church Concert Choir won second place.
- On 25 February 2008 there was a concert by the Estonian Police Brass Band and soloist Kaire Vilgats in the Petit Palau de la Musicas in Barcelona in honour of the 90th anniversary of Estonia.
- On 28 February 2008 the ETV Girls’ Choir performed in the city government of Madrid’s Conde Duque Cultural Centre.
- On 19 March 2008 the Boys’ Choir of the National Opera Estonia gave a concert in the framework of the Cuenca Religious Music Week.
- In October 2008, the Teet, Mari and Martin Järvi chamber trio gave concerts in Madrid and Seville.
- In March 2012 the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra gave a concert including the works of Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis.
- In July 2013 the Estonian girl’s choir Ellerhein toured Andorra and Spain and gave concerts at the church of the Andorran patron saint Our Lady of Meritxelli, in the town of Vic in Catalonia, and in the conservatories of Madrid and Burgos.
- In September 2013 the violinist Andres Mustonen and the Spanish pianist Alfredo Oyaguez Montero undertook a concert tour entitled “Mustonen is 60!:Crazy Opera and Broadway Musicals”, performing a total of four times in Palma de Mallorca, Deia, and the region of Catalonia.
- In October-November 2013 Tallinn Boys Choir, who was celebrating their 25th anniversary, gave concerts in Tolosa and the Bilbao area and participated in the prestigious European Grand Prix competition in Tolosa.
In March 2015, Arvo Pärt was the guest of honour in Madrid and Barcelona at the Carta Blanca festival.
Musamari Choir School's children's choir won third place an international choir competition in October 2015 in Tolosa, Basque Country.
In October 2016 the first Estonian Film Days in Spain, “ESTilo nórdico” were held in Cine Doré in Madrid. Films such as “In the Crosswind”, “Cherry Tobacco”, “Mushrooming”, “Kertu” and “The Fencer” were shown. The films were introduced to the audience by Tristan Priimägi, Toomas Hussar and Katrin Maimik. The films “In the Crosswind”, “1944” and “The Fencer” were shown in regular Spanish cinemas as well.
- Since 2005, a Spanish film week has taken place in Tallinn and Tartu each spring, organised by the Spanish Embassy in Tallinn. The project is flourishing thanks to the Sõprus cinema, the Ministry of Culture, the University of Tartu and the Estonian Film Foundation. In March of 2016, Spain and Spanish film week took place in the framework of the Iberofest festival.
- In August 2007 an Iberian film week took place in both Tallinn and Tartu.
- In April 2008 the Estonian film “The Class” (“Klass”) was shown in Spain.
- In July 2008, V. Õunpuu’s film “Autumn Ball” (“Sügisball” ) participated in the Cinema Jove international film festival in Valencia and won the grand prize.
- In April 2010 Estonian documentary films were shown at Madrid’s Suite Film Festival.
- In May 2011 Jaan Toomik’s short film “Oleg” was screened within the framework of a modern art festival in Madrid.
- In April 2013, the Estonian, Spanish and Portuguese co-production film "Black Diamonds" won the Malaga Film Festival Audience Award.
- In July 2013, Janno Jürgens' short film "The Distance" won the Francisco García de Paso Award, given to the short film best expressing human values at the international competition of the Huesca International Film Festival.
- In August 2013, the Spanish language and cultural centre Hispaania Maja (Spain House), in cooperation with the cinema Artis, and with the support of the Spanish Embassy, organised a Spanish World Festival, which featured movies, music, books, cooking, and a children's program from the Spanish-speaking world.
The Estonian-Georgian co-producted film "Tangerines" was shown in cinemas in the spring of 2015 in Madrid and Barcelona, in addition to 16 other cities across Spain.
LITERATURE AND THEATRE
On December 15 2016, Aino Kallas’s book “La Novia del lobo” was presented in the Tierra de Fuego bookshop in Madrid as part of the Nordic Literature Club. A discussion about Aino Kallas’s person, her book and the island of Hiiumaa was held in cooperation with Luisa Gutiérrez Ruiz, translator and employee of the Finnish Cultural Institute.
In 2016 Andres Kasekamp’s “A History of the Baltic States” was published in Spanish by the Barcelonan publishing house Edicions Bellaterra.
A small but prominent selection Estonian literature has been published in Spanish: Jaan Kross ("Treading Air", “The Emperor’s Madman”, “Professor Martens’s Return”), Jaan Kaplinski "The Same River"; Viivi Luik (“The Seventh Spring of Peace”) and Tõnu Õnnepalu (“Borderland”). The prose form of "Kalevipoeg" and Estonian fairy tales have also been published in Spanish. The first Spanish translation of Estonian poetry, Jüri Talvet’s “Estonia’s Elegy and Other Poems”, was published in the spring of 2003. Juri Lotman and his semiotic school have gained fame in Spanish academic circles. A number of Juri Lotman’s books and articles have been published in Spanish. In 2014, Juhan Liiv's collection of poems "La nieve cae, canta mi voz" (Snow is drifting, I'm singing) was published in Spanish. You can read about Estonia's history in the Spanish translations of Sofi Oksanen's books "When the Doves Disappeared" and "Purge".
In academic circles, Juri Lotman and his semiotic school are very well known. A number of Juri Lotman's articles and books on Russian cultural history and semiotics have been published in Spanish.
Jüri Talvet and Ain Kaalep have been given the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica).
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