Relations between Estonia and Turkey are friendly and have progressed steadily over the years. Continuous progress in political, defence, economic and cultural co-operation is very important to Estonia.
Turkey recognised the Republic of Estonia on 23 January 1924. Prior to the Second World War, the Turkish ambassador was Nuri Batu who presented his credentials on 19 September 1935. At the time there were only nine residing ambassadors in Tallinn, and Turkey had only 20 embassies around the world.
After the restoration of Estonia's independence, diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored on 23 October 1991. Turkey never recognised the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Turkey accredited its first ambassador to Estonia, residing in Vilnius, in 1992. On 1 October 2001 Turkey opened its embassy in Tallinn. In the period 2001 - 2005, Turkey's ambassador to Estonia was Ömer Altuğ.The current Turkish Ambassador to Estonia is Süleyman İnan Özyıldız, who presented his credentials to President Kaljulaid on February 5, 2020.
In June 1996, Sven Jürgenson became Estonia's first ambassador to Turkey after the restoration of independence; he resided in Tallinn. In February 2001, the Estonian Embassy in Ankara was opened. The current Estonian ambassador to Turkey, Annely Kolk, presented her credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on October 3, 2019.
Estonia currently has five offices of honorary consul in Turkey. The first was opened on 2 August 2001 in Istanbul, where the honorary consul is Tuncay Özilhan whose consulate area are the regions of Istanbul and Marmara. On 4 October 2002 an honorary consulate was opened in the resort city of Anatalya, where the honorary consul is Ethem Okudur. On 8 June 2010 Minister of Culture Laine Jänes opened the honorary consulate in the city of Bursa, where the honorary consul is Barış Kaya. On 4 July 2013, the office of honorary consul in Trabzon was officially opened; the honorary consul in Zeyyat Kafkas. In June of 2014, festivities marked the opening of the fifth office of honorary consul in Turkey, in the city of Mersin, where the honorary consul is Nebil Taşçı.
On 10 June 2003, the X composition of the Estonian Riigikogu founded the Estonia-Turkey parliamentary group, which was chaired by Evelyn Sepp in the XI Riigikogu. Currently, the Estonia-Turkey parliamentary group has 9 members and is chaired by Mihhail Korb.
In the Turkish National Assembly, a Turkey-Estonia Friendship Group was founded on 6 March 2016, which is currently led by Mr. Yusuf Ziya Yilmaz.
|August 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Turkey|
|July 2017||Foreign Minister Sven Mikser in Ankara|
|August 2016||Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand in Ankara as the Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe|
|Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Istanbul at a nordic walking event on the Bosphorus Bridge|
|May 2011||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet to attend the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Istanbul|
|February 2011||Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo|
|June 2010||President of the Republic Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Minister of Culture Laine Jänes in Istanbul for the world premier of Pärt’s new work “Adam’s Lament”|
|April 2010||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|December 2009||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|April 2009||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the UN Alliance of Civilisations meeting in Istanbul|
|March 2009||Vice-Speaker of the Riigikogu Kristiina Ojuland|
|November 2008||Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder|
|March 2008||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|July 2006||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline|
|April 2006||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|September 2005||President Arnold Rüütel|
|April 2004||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland|
|August 2003||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland|
|October 2001||Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|August 2019||Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavușoǧlu on an official visit|
|October 2018||Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committe of the Grand National Assembly Volkan Bozkır on an official visit|
|October 2017||Minister for European Affairs of the Republic of Turkey and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik visit to Estonia|
|October 2016||Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavușoğlu on an official visit|
|October 2014||President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on an official visit|
|May 2011||Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on an official visit|
|November 2011||Minister of European Affairs Egemen Bağiş|
|February 2011||Minister of Agriculture Mehmet Mehdi Eker|
|February 2010||Minister of European Affairs Egemen Bağiş on a working visit|
|October 2008||President Abdullah Gül|
|July 2008||Foreign Minister Ali Babacan|
|December 2006||Head negotiator of Turkey’s EU negotiations and Minister of Economy Ali Babacan|
|September 2004||Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gül|
|August 2002||Defence Minister Sabahattin Çakmakoğlu|
|April 2002||President Ahmet Nezdet Sezer|
|June 2000||Foreign Minister Ismail Cem|
In 1924 an Estonian-Turkish Treaty of Friendship was signed, which came into effect in 1927. Six more agreements and adjustments agreements were signed from 1929-1938 between Turkey and Estonia. A number of additional agreements have been signed after the restoration of Estonia’s independence.
• Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation (came into force 26.04.1995)
• Agreement on Trade and Economic Co-operation (came into force 15.02.1996)
• International Road Transport Agreement (came into force 15.02.1996)
• Agreement on Co-operation in the Field of Tourism (came into force 15.02.1996)
• Agreement Concerning the Mutual Abolition of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic Passports (came into force 14.02.1997, changed on 26.09.2008)
• Agreement regarding Mutual Assistance between Customs Administrations (came into force 06.12.1998)
• Agreement Concerning the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 29.04.1999)
• Agreement on Co-operation in Culture, Education, Science and Sports (came into force 22.09.1999)
• Co-operation programme in the field of culture, education, research, youth and sports (came into force 28.11.2005)
• Agreement on Co-operation in the Fight Against International Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, International Terrorism and Organised Crime (came into force 27.09.2000)
• Agreement on Defence (came into force 31.10.2002)
• Agreement for the Protection of Classified Information (came into force 27.01.2003)
• Agreement on Air Transport (came into force 27.09.2004)
• Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 21.02.2005)
• Agreement for the waiving of visa requirements for holders of Estonian passports (came into force 12.07.2008)
• Agreement on the employment of the dependants of the staff of diplomatic representations and consular agencies (signed 27.10.2016)
Mutual understanding between Estonia and Turkey is enhanced by NATO alliance, similar positions on most international issues and constructive co-operation in international organisations.
In recent years, Estonia-Turkey relations have intensified, especially during the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
From 24-27 May 2010, members of the Riigikogu Constitutional Committee visited Ankara. This was the first visit of its kind to Turkey. In 2010, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited Turkey for the world premiere of a musical work by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. There were many important events held before and after the concert: a bilateral meeting of the Estonian and Turkish presidents, a meeting of the ministers of culture, and a meeting of the mayors of Tallinn and Istanbul.
During the official visit that took place in April 2011, President Ilves met with President Gül, Prime Minister Erdoğan, and Speaker of the Grand National Assembly Şahin. The president also gave a lecture at Bilkent University in Ankara titled “Turkey and Estonia – Yesterday, today and tomorrow”.
In February 2011, the Estonian Embassy in Turkey organised a Nordic walking event near Ankara by Gölbaş Lake in honour of Estonian Independence Day. The event that attracted wide media coverage was also attended by Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bağış. In 2012, when Istanbul was the European Capital of Sport, the Estonian Embassy in Ankara, the Turkish Ministry for European Union Affairs and the city government of Istanbul organised the Bosporus Nordic walking event “Nordic Walking between Continents”
Regular consultations have taken place between the foreign ministries of the two countries.
On 25 February 2016 consultations on the EU between the foreign ministries took place in Tallinn. On 15 June 2016 consultations on security policy took place in Ankara. Turkey-Estonia consultations on migration and consular affairs took place on 25 November 2016 in Tallinn. On 9 May 2017, consultations on security policy led by the secretaries general of the ministries of foreign affairs took place in Tallinn and on 8 May 2018, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia made a visit to Ankara.
Strengthening business diplomacy ties has also been an important course of action.
In 2014, two important events took place in Turkey. In February, the Estonian Embassy in Istanbul organised the first Estonia-Turkey tourism seminar that in addition to providing general information, enabled to create business contacts through B2B meetings. In October 2014, simultaneously with the visit of the President of Turkey, Turkish tourism companies visited Tallinn to see the sights in Tallinn and Estonia and to strengthen cooperation with Estonian tourism companies. In autumn 2015, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Enterprise Estonia organised a seminar in Istanbul for Estonian and Turkish entrepreneurs.
From 15-17 November 2016, high-level business visit to Istanbul organised by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry took place at the request of DEIK. The visit included meetings with entrepreneurs and a round-table discussion on start-ups and technological innovation.
Economic relations between Estonia and Turkey are good and are marked by stable development. Estonia’s accession to the European Union was followed by rapid developments in trade in goods with Turkey: exports to the country increased five-fold from 2004-2008. Trade with Turkey was impacted by the global financial crisis in 2009, when both export and import volumes decreased substantially. Trade volumes grew again from 2010-2013, while exports were lower in 2014 and 2015 before returning to growth in 2016. Imports have increased markedly, from a level of 43 million euros in 2012 to almost 93 million euros in 2017 Estonia’s trade with Turkey has maintained a positive balance since 2004.
In 2018 Turkey was Estonia’s 22th biggest trading partner overall, with almost 225 million euros in turnover (a 0,7% share of all trade). It was ranked 19th among Estonia’s export partners and 26th among its import partners.
Trade with Turkey 2013–2018 (in million EUR)
|Export||Proportion %||Import||Proportion %|
Source: Estonian Statistical Office
Export to Turkey:
Having decreased slightly in 2015, Estonian exports grew by more than 20% in 2016. Further growth (44%) continued in 2017, when the export volume reached almost 172 million euros. This growth in exports was led primarily by two goods groups: metals and metal products; and machinery and equipment. The proportion of goods of Estonian origin in exports also grew, from 67% in 2013 to ca 82% in subsequent years.
The main export to Turkey is metals and metal products, forming 73% of all exports to the country in 2017. The primary export items are scrap and residue from cast iron and steel and unwrought lead. Ranked second among export items are machinery and equipment (transformers and inductors) at 11%. Also exported are precious metals (scrap and residue, as well as gold) (7%), chemical products (3%) and animal products (live cattle) (2%).
Import from Turkey:
The increase in imports in 2016 and 2017 was due to the Port of Tallinn purchasing passenger ferries, as a result of which the main import items were means of transport (43% of all imports). In addition to the ferries, motor vehicles and their parts were imported for the carriage of goods, and cars were also imported. The second-biggest import item was textile products at 22% (used clothing, cotton, special fabrics and bed linen). Metals and metal products (9%) and machinery and equipment (9%) are also imported from Turkey.
According to the data of Eesti Pank, as at 31 December 2018 the value of Turkish direct investments in Estonia was 13 million euros. These investments have been made in a variety of sectors: water supply and sewerage; wholesale and retail trade; transportation and warehousing; accommodation and catering; information and communications; financial and insurance-related activities; real estate; professional, scientific and technological activities; administrative and support services; and education.
According to the data of the Commercial Register, as at May 2018 a total of 209 companies with Turkish involvement were registered in Estonia.
As at 31 December 2018 Estonian direct investments in Turkey amounted to 2.8 million euros. Investments have been made in wholesale and retail trade; the information and communications sector; and real estate.
From 2014-2015, around 6500 tourists from Turkey stayed in Estonia overnight. In 2016, interest in Estonia grew and almost 7000 tourists from Turkey stayed in Estonia overnight. In 2017, the number was 7500. Popular places to visit besides the capital are Tartumaa, Pärnumaa and Ida-Virumaa counties.
On 11 June 2013, Turkish Airlines opened a direct route from Tallinn to Istanbul.
A Culture, Education, Science and Sports Agreement was signed in 1994 and came into force in September 1999. There was active cooperation between Estonia and Turkey in the framework of the “Youth in Action” programme.
Turkey is one of the priority countries for the Archimedes Foundation (established by the Estonian government) and for Estonian higher education institutions The number of exchange students from Turkey is increasing.
The Turkish language can be learned at the University of Tartu. In 1997, Turkish President Süleyman Demirel inaugurated the Tallinn University's Turkish-language section. The same year the university’s Oriental Centre was opened, where Turkish and related languages were taught. The year 2000 saw the start of an Oriental bachelor programme with Turkish as the main subject. In 1998, on the initiative of the Turkish Ambassador Erkan Gezer, a Turkish-language section was opened at the University of Tartu.
Over the last decade, cooperation in the fields of culture and education between Estonia and Turkey has been successful. The following are examples of some events that have taken place.
2008 In March, the first ski marathon to be held in the Anatolian mountains in Gerede, Turkey took place; Prime Minister Andrus Ansip was among the participants. At the same event a year later, Deputy Speaker of Riigikogu Kristiina Ojuland was one of the participants.
In April 2008, Turkish Ambassador Fatma Sule Sovsal opened a photo exhibit by the former Turkish diplomat Erkut Onart in the Estonian National Library titled “Turkey – The land where nature, man and culture meet” ("Türgi - maa, kus kohtuvad loodus, inimene ja kultuur").
In June, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Ambassador Fatma Sule Sovsal opened the photo exhibit by Turkish diplomat Nur Sagman titled “Happy Anniversary Year, Estonia!” ("Head juubeliaastat, Eesti!") in the National Library.
In October, “Gönül Paksoy’s Timeless clothing design” ("Türgi värvid ja lõimed. Gönül Paksoy ajatu rõivadisain") was opened at the Mikkeli Museum in Kadriorg.
In November, a selection of Estonia puppet films was shown at the Kars Film Festival, and Rao Heidmets’s new film “Inherent Obligations” participated in the competition programme.
2009 In March, the second ski marathon took place in Turkey thanks to the initiative of the Estonian Embassy and the honorary consuls.
On 4 October 2009 Estonian Ambassador to Turkey Aivo Orav, Tartu University rector Alar Karis, and governor of Ağrı County Mehmet Çetin opened an exhibit in Ishak Pasha Palace at the foot of Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı or Agri Mountain) in the region of Ağri in Eastern Turkey to celebrate 180 years since the conquering of Mount Ararat in 1829. In the days after the opening of the exhibit an international climb took place. The group reached the summit on 9 October, the same day that Johann Jakob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot had done so 180 years earlier.
2010 In February, the Estonian Embassy in co-operation with the Anatolia Marathon Association and Bolu Province organised a spirited cross-country skiing festival.
In 2010 Istanbul was one of the European Capitals of Culture. The Ministry of Culture and the Tallinn 2011 Foundation organised many events to introduce Estonia and Tallinn. In April 2010 Estonian films were part of the international film festival in Istanbul. In May an international student theatre festival took place with the participation of some Estonian troupes.
During the summer of 2010, the cultural bridge between Estonia and Turkey became even stronger. A musical composition for orchestra, choir and soloists was ordered from Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (who was celebrating his 75th birthday). The concert took place as part of the joint cultural programme of Tallinn 2011 and Istanbul 2010. On 7 June 2010 the world premier of Arvo Pärt’s new work “Adam’s Lament” took place in Hagia Irene Church in Istanbul; the work incorporated characteristic themes from both Christian and Islamic culture and music. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Borusan Symphony Orchestra, and the ensemble Vox Clamantis performed, led by conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. Prior to the concert, the president of Turkey (with the president of Estonia by his side) presented Arvo Pärt with an award for lifetime achievement.
In July 2010 the Ellerhein Girls’ Choir directed by Tiia-Ester Loitme gave a concert in the Hagia Irene Church.
In December 2010 Veiko Õunpuu’s film “The Temptation of St. Tony” (“Püha Tõnu kiusamine”) was screened as part of the competition programme of the Gezic film festival.
2011 In February 2011 the Estonian Embassy in Turkey organised a Nordic walking event near Ankara by Gölbaş Lake in honour of Estonian Independence Day. Nordic walking was introduced by the creator of the sport Marko Kantaneva and the Estonian company ME Sisustus, which produces the Nordic walking supplies bearing Kantaneva’s eponymous trademark. Among others, the athletic walking event was attended by Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bağış.
In July 2011, the Ankara National Opera gave guest performances at the Saaremaa Opera Days.
2012 The Bosporus Nordic walking event “Nordic Walking between Continents”, co-organised by the Estonian Embassy in Ankara, the Turkish Ministry for European Union Affairs, the city government of Istanbul, and the governor of Istanbul, took place in May. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and the Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis participated in the walk.
From 13-18 November, the Estonian Logistics Cluster visited Istanbul and the region of İzmit/Kocael. The visit was organised by the Estonian Logistics Cluster and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The Estonian National Opera performed at the International Aspendos Opera Festival in June.
Animation “Lotte and the Moonstone Secret” premiered in Turkey as part of the programme of the EU Human Rights Film Days. The film received positive feedback from viewers of ten different cities. “Lotte and the Moonstone Secret” was also the most popular film at the festival.
In May, the Estonian Embassy celebrated Europe Day with different events in Istanbul. Estonian folk rock group Tenfold Rabbit performed at the Europe Day festival.
In December, film festival “Festival on Wheels” took place in Ankara where Estonian animations were screened. Antti Jokinen’s “Purge” based on Sofi Oksanen’s novel of the same name screened at the EU Human Rights Film Days.
2014 In cooperation of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), the Estonian Travel and Tourism Association, Enterprise Estonia and Turkish Airlines, a tourism seminar was organised in Turkey.
Europe Day was celebrated in Istanbul with the concert of the Estonian punk rock group Nikns Suns in May.
A Business Seminar in Mersin, organised in cooperation with Enterprise Estonia and the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, took place in June.
In December, the first Estonian 3D animation “Lisa Limone” screened at the Human Rights Film Festival in Turkey.
2015 In April, the Embassy organised a seminar for Honorary Consuls in Turkey to introduce Estonian investment climate, e-Residency etc.
Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta gave two concerts at the Church of St. Anthony in Istanbul as part of the annual festival “Bach Before&After”. The Sinfonietta, led by Andres Mustonen, played well-known works of Estonian composers. Organist Piret Aidulo also gave a solo concert at the festival.
The distribution of Estonian films in Turkey continued. In May, Estonian group named Traffic gave concerts in Istanbul and Ankara to celebrate Europe Day. The Estonian-Georgian co-production “Tangerines” screened at the International Film Festival in Ankara. In December, “Those who Dare”, a co-production between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Iceland, screened at the EU Human Rights Film Days in Ankara.
In September, a seminar for Estonian and Turkish entrepreneurs was organised, supported by Enterprise Estonia and the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The seminar focused on matters related to Estonian and Turkish business environments and Estonian business-owners had the opportunity to establish necessary contacts and get acquainted with the local business environment.
Estonian musicians also visited Turkey in autumn 2015. In September, there was an opportunity to listen to pianist Tanel Joamets in Ankara, and early music consort Hortus Musicus led by Andres Mustonen in Istanbul and Ankara. Concerts in Estonia and Turkey by Estonian cellist Andreas Lend and Turkish pianist Hande Dalkiliç also demonstrated the close cooperation between Estonian and Turkish musicians.
2016 Estonian music was introduced through the year. Early music consort Hortus Musicus took part in several festivals in Istanbul and Ankara.
In autumn, film “Out of fashion” by Jaak Kilmi, Lennart Laberenz and Reet Aus was screened in Turkey.
2017 In July, jazz duo Erki Pärnoja and Anna Põldvee performed at the CerModern Museum in Ankara to mark the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Ensemble Hortus Musicus gave a concert in Istanbul.
2018 – Estonia 100. In April, a photo exhibition titled “Estonia and Turkey: so far and still close. A hundred years of friendship” on Estonia-Turkey relations ran at the Middle East Technical University’s Culture and Convention Centre.
Head of the Estonian Writers’ Union Tiit Aleksejev was also in Istanbul in April to introduce the Turkish translation of Estonian writer Jaan Kross’s book “The Czar's Madman”.
In May, the embassies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Turkey organised a concert to mark the 100th anniversaries of the Baltic countries. The concert featured the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra with Estonian conductor Anu Tali.
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