Ukraine recognised the Republic of Estonia on 26 August 1991, and diplomatic relations were established on 4 January 1992. Estonia is represented in Ukraine by Ambassador Kaimo Kuusk.
Good relations exist between Estonia and Ukraine and close co-operation is done in many different areas. Ukraine is and will remain one of Estonia’s foreign policy priorities and Estonia supports Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Ukraine is one of Estonia’s development co-operation priority countries. The main objective of humanitarian aid is to help alleviate the effects of the serious conflict, which began in 2014.
Close co-operation takes place in international organisations as well as on the departmental level between Ukraine and Estonia. In 2010 an intergovernmental commission started up, which has the goal of discussing economic, educational, technological and scientific bilateral co-operation in accordance with an agreement that came into force in 2008.
In recent years co-operation between the two parliaments has intensified. There is an Estonian-Ukrainian parliamentary group in the Riigikogu and an analogous friendship group in the Ukrainian parliament.
|September 2017||Foreign Minister Sven Mikser|
|August 2017||Defence Minister Jüri Luik|
|April 2017||Prime Minister Jüri Ratas|
|March 2017||European Union Affairs Committee|
|February 2016||President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor|
|January 2016||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|December 2015||Defence Minister Hannes Hanso|
|December 2015||Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu|
|May 2015||President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor|
|April 2015||Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus|
|April 2015||Commander of the Defence Forces Riho Terras|
|February 2015||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas|
|January 2015||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus|
|September 2014||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|May 2014||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|April 2013||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|November 2012||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Culture Minister Rein Lang|
|March 2012||Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder|
|December 2011||Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts|
|June 2011||Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts|
|June 2011||Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder|
|December 2010||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|May 2009||Minister of Economics and Communications Juhan Parts|
|May 2008||Working visit of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves|
|January 2007||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|December 2005||President Arnold Rüütel|
|September 2005||Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet|
|May 2004||Minister of Foreign Affairs Kristiina Ojuland|
|September 2003||Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma|
|October 2002||State visit of President Arnold Rüütel|
|May 2000||Chairman of the Riigikogu Toomas Savi|
|September 2017||Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Stepan Kubiv|
|January 2017||President Petro Poroshenko|
|November 2016||Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Viktor Muzhenko|
|October 2016||Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak|
|June 2016||Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin|
|March 2016||Delegation of Deputy Ministers of Ukraine|
|October 2015||Minister of Economy and Trade Aivaras Abromavičius|
|March 2015||Delegation of Deputy Ministers for European Integration|
|June 2012||Chairman of Verhovna Rada Volodymyr Lytvyn|
|October 2011||Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Gryschenko|
|February 2011||Vice Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko|
|October 2010||Prime Minister Mykola Azarov|
|December 2006||President Viktor Juštšenko|
|October 2006||Foreign Minister Boris Tarasjuk|
|October 2005||Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko|
|December 2002||Chairman of Verhovna Rada Volodymyr Lytvyn|
|May 2002||Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatoliy Zlenko|
The first agreement between Estonia and Ukraine was signed on 25.11.1921. Since 1991, 20 intergovernmental agreements have been concluded between Ukraine and Estonia, which have created a strong basis for the successful development of bilateral relations. In addition to these, many bilateral co-operation agreements have also been concluded between various institutions.
In 2015, Ukraine was ranked as Estonia’s 24th trading partner. In the ranking, Ukraine was in 23rd place in terms of exports and 27th place among those importing to Estonia. For obvious reasons, Ukraine’s current crisis has had a negative effect on Estonian-Ukrainian economic relations and trade dynamics for the second consecutive year.
In 2014, the total trade turnover with Ukraine was 123 million euros, of which exports accounted for 53%, or 66 million, and imports for 57 million euros. During the year, exports fell by 35% and imports by 34%. The trade balance was positive at 8 million euros.
During 2015, trade with Ukraine continued to decline. The total trade turnover was 83 million euros, of which exports accounted for 46 million (55%) and imports of 37 million euros. Exports fell 16% and imports 25%. The three most important groups of goods exported were as follows: 23% – animal products, 21% – chemical products, and 14% – machinery and equipment. Of imports, metals and metal products accounted for 27%, machinery and equipment for 22%, and timber and timber products for 13%.
Estonian-Ukrainian trade 2009-2015 (in millions EUR)
According to Bank of Estonia data, as of 31.12.2015 Estonia’s direct investments in Ukraine amounted to 282.6 million euros, which represented 5.1% of total investments to foreign countries. In terms of countries where Estonia invests, Ukraine is in 5th place. The majority of investments were made in the areas of financial and insurance activities, wholesale and retail trade, professional and research activity and the processing industry.
Ukraine's direct investments in Estonia as of 31.12.2015 totalled 133.1 million euros, which accounted for 0.8% of total investments, and places Ukraine in 18th position in terms of countries with direct investments in Estonia. The investments have been made in financial and insurance activities, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, transportation and storage, professional and research activities, and administrative and support activities.
Many Estonian and Ukrainian regions have established or are presently establishing direct contacts, signing respective co-operation agreements and carrying out mutual visits. Some examples of direct contacts: Tallinn-Kyiv, Tallinn-Odessa, the County of Tartu and Ivano-Frankivsk, the County of Hiiumaa and the Kherson district, and the County of Valgamaa and the Shatskyi region.
Cultural and Educational co-operation
Estonian-Ukrainian relations both in the areas of education and culture have a long history, dating back to the 18th century where the first reports of Ukrainian students at the University of Tartu can be found. Estonian and Ukrainian universities follow this tradition even today. Contacts have been re-established between the University of Tartu and the Lviv University, between the Estonian and Ukrainian Agricultural Universities, between the Tallinn Technical University and the Kyiv Polytechnical University (co-operation agreement signed in 2002), between the Estonian School of Diplomacy and the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine (the rectors signed a Memorandum of Intent in 2003) and the Tallinn and Kyiv Pedagogical Universities (co-operation agreement signed in 2004).
Estonia and Ukraine have signed many agreements on co-operation in education and science. In November 2012 the co-operation programme between the ministries of culture was renewed for the years 2012-2016. In 2016, the cooperation program will be renewed. In February 1996, an intergovernmental agreement on the mutual recognition of educational documents was signed. Also, tight co-operation is prevalent between the Ministries of Education and the Academies of Science of Estonia and Ukraine.
The following is just a sample of the cultural events that have taken place: On 25 February 2001, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Tartu commemorating the Ukrainian poetess Lesya Ukrainka on the initiative of the Ukrainian Embassy. The most important cultural event of 2003 was undoubtedly the issuing of a joint Estonian-Ukrainian postage stamp that was introduced simultaneously in Tallinn and Kyiv (the theme of the stamp is the ancient trade route along the Gulf of Finland and the Dnepr River, the so-called “road from the Varangians to the Greeks”). In September 2005, a concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt took place in Kyiv. The Estonian puppet films “Inherent Obligations” and “Lili” won the two main prizes at the Krok animation festival in Ukraine in 2009. In December 2009 the Estonian film festival “Estfest” took place for the first time in Kyiv and Kharkiv, during which the Ukrainian public was able to see five short and feature-length films, included the lauded “Class”, “Autumn Ball”, “I Was Here”, and the animated films about Lotte. In March 2011 an Arvo Pärt concert took place at the Ukrainian Philharmonic, in April Heiki Mätlik gave a concert tour and master classes in various Ukrainian cities, and in November an Estonian animated film festival was held in Lviv and Kyiv. In September 2011 the 150th anniversary of the Estonian villages in Crimea was celebrated and a memorial plaque was unveiled. In March and April of 2012 an exhibit on traditional Estonian clothing was organised at the Museum of Ukrainian Folk Art on the grounds of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and in May the same exhibit could be seen at the Crimean Ethnography Museum in Simferopol; in March many Estonian films were screened at the documentary film festival Docudays; and during the year many concerts (Hortus Musicus, Svjata Vatra) and painting exhibits (Jaan Elken, Maarit Murka) also took place. In June 2013 a presentation of the Russian translation of a book about Arvo Pärt compiled by Enzo Restagno was held in Kyiv, accompanied by a performance by vocal group Vox Clamantis.
In January 2015, a festive event and a concert were held on the occasion of presenting the Estonia piano to the Sloviansk School of Fine Arts. The event was also attended by Ambassador Sulev Kannike. The piano procurement campaign was organized by the Estonian National Opera, the Ministry of Culture, the Foreign Ministry and representatives of the Ukrainian Embassy in Estonia. In February 2015, the Estonian and Georgian embassies held a joint presentation of the film “Tangerines” at a Kyiv movie theatre. The event was attended by Ukrainian agencies, the diplomatic corps, friends of Estonia and Estonians living in Ukraine. The Estonian Defence Forces Orchestra (37 people), led by Lieutenant Colonel Peeter Saan performed in Kyiv at a commemorative event on 9.05.2015. Retired General Johannes Kert represented Estonia at the parade and concert.
In August 2015, the folk ensemble Vatra Svjata performed in Ukraine. The concerts took place on August 23 at the ecological festival in the Carpathian Mountains, at a concert on Ukraine's Independence Day, and at the club "Divan" in Kyiv, at an international gathering in Odessa of youth leaders of Ukrainians abroad and in Viljandi’s twin town of Ternopil.
In March of 2016, a Nordic-Baltic-Ukrainian artists’ joint exhibition entitled “Identity. Behind the Curtain of Uncertainty “was opened at the Ukrainian National Art Museum. The art project was begun in 2013. The works of Estonian artists Kristina Norman, Tanel Rander and Flo Kasearu works were represented at the exhibition.
In February 2017 four Estonian fashion designers presented their collections (Triinu Pungits, Äli Kargoja, Kätlin Kikas and Kristel Kuslapuu) at the Mercedes-Benz Kyiv Fashion Show.
In July 2017 a charity concert dedicated to the start of the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council and the concert piano "Estonia" took place at the Ukrainian Academy of Science.
In July 2017 the Embassy held a reception dedicated to the start of the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council and with a concert by the band Svjata Vatra.
In December 2017 Estonian Film Week took place in Kyiv for a third time.
Estonian cultural life is also enriched by the activities of the Ukrainian diaspora, which is the second biggest minority group in Estonia (28 thousand people).
Ukraine has been one of Estonia's development cooperation priority countries for over 10 years. Over the past two years Estonia’s aid has increased exponentially: in 2014 up to 1.2 million euros and in 2015 up to 2.7 million euros. In the year 2017, the assistance for UA is 2.4 million euros (1,2 mlndevelopment aid, 1,2 mln humanitarian aid) , which is 1/4 of Estonia's total budget for development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
Estonia has prepared the bases of development cooperation for 2016 to support cooperation between Estonia and Ukraine. These establish high-priority cooperation areas, based on UA priorities and Estonia’s experiences and ability to offer added value. The areas of cooperation for 2017 are:
- the strengthening of democratic state structures and systems, including the introduction of e-government and ICT solutions in public administration and the introduction of good governance practises;
- supporting the business environment;
- improving the quality of education.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also supports the Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership’s activities in all Eastern Partnership countries, including Ukraine. The Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership , which was established in January of 2011, contributes to the development of a democratic society through the training of officials and the passing on of reform experience.
Estonia's development cooperation activities at the regional level have taken place primarily in Chernigov oblast, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and in Dnepropetrovsk region, in Lviv. Development cooperation projects have also been carried out in Crimea and Luhansk Oblast. In addition to supporting the central government, regional cooperation can not be forgotten and cooperation in this regard must also continue.
In recent years, cooperation has intensified in the field of education. Since 2010, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry supports student studies on the level of Masters and Doctoral studies in Estonian universities and research and development institutions.
Estonia has contributed to guaranteeing peace, stability and security in Ukraine and to a reduction of tensions through the support of the OSCE's special missions. Since 2014, Estonia has supported OSCE Special Mission to Ukraine with 12 people (currently there are 5 observers on the mission). In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has supported the OSCE special mission in Ukraine with 90 000 euros. Currently four people from Estonia are working as part of the EU CSDP mission (common security and defence policy) EUAM (EU Advisory Mission) Ukraine.
Since the beginning of 2014, Estonia has allocated more than 1.8 million euros as humanitarian aid for victims of the conflict in Ukraine to alleviate the situation of internally displaced persons. Aid is granted mainly through international organizations – the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, an in-kind food assistance has been sent through the UNHCR (Estonian food aid to Ukraine went to Odessa Refugee Centre) and there has also been reaction to the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism’s appeal and130 000 euros worth of funds for IDPs and victims has been sent out to alleviate the situation. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also supported the humanitarian activities of three Estonian NGOs (Mondo, the Estonian Refugee Council, and the Ukrainian Cultural Centre) to help victims of the conflict in Ukraine and internal refugees.
In 2017, 1,2 million euros has been allocated for humanitarian aid to Ukraine (International Red Cross Committee (ICRC), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Ukrainian representation of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)).
Ukrainians in Estonia and Estonians in Ukraine
There are about 23 000 Ukrainians living in Estonia. Ukrainians form the second largest ethnic minority group after the Russians. The oldest Ukrainian organisation in Estonia is the Ukrainian Compatriots in Estonia. An umbrella organisation for Ukrainian diaspora in Estonia is the Ukrainian Congress in Estonia with its magnificent headquarters in Tallinn’s Old Town. Since November 1998, Ukrainian culture days have taken place in Estonia. The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, registered in Estonia in 1991, is also fully active.
The approximate number of Estonians living in Ukraine is 3 000. In 1994, the Ukrainian Estonian Society was founded in Kyiv. In June 1998, the first Estonian Summer Days were organised in Krasnodarka, the Estonian village in Crimea, and they have become a tradition. In September 2001, the 2nd Ukrainian Estonian Summer Days were held on the Crimean west coast in the township of Beregove, the first village founded by Estonians. In September 2011, the 150th anniversary of Estonians in Crimea was celebrated. From August 2002-2014, a teacher was from Estonia was assigned to the Aleksandrovka High School in Crimea to teach Estonian to local children of Estonian descent.
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