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Finland - Relations


 

- Most important visits

- Significant agreements

- Co-operation

- Economic relations

- Agriculture

- Cultural co-operation

 


Finland recognised the Republic of Estonia in 1920 and diplomatic relations were restored on 29 August 1991. Estonia's first ambassador to Finland following the restoration of independence was Lennart Meri.

The current Estonian Ambassador to Finland is Margus Laidre, who presented his letters of credence to Finnish President Sauli Niinisö on 2 September 2014. Since 18 September 2014, the Finnish Embassy in Tallinn is headed by Ambassador Kirsti Johanna Narinen.

Estonia has seven honorary consuls operating in Finland: in Oulu, Turku, Kotka, the Åland Islands, Vaasa, Kuopio, and Rovaniemi. In 2016, a new candidate for the honorary consul in Tampere will hopefully be found.

Finland has two honorary consuls in Estonia: in Pärnu (Mr. Jarno Fonsén) and as of 2016, in Narva (Mrs. Larissa Šabunova). The process to appoint a new honorary consul in Tartu in ongoing.

The XIIIth Riigikogu founded the Estonian-Finnish Friendship Group on 2 April 2015 (20 members, headed by Kalle Palling). An Estonian Friendship Group was founded in Finland's Eduskunta (Parliament) in February of 2016 (13 members, led by Krista Kiuru).

Most important visits

to Finland

June 2016

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (attending 7th World Congress of Finno-Ugric peoples in Lahti)

May 2016

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas

April 2016

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

March 2016

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (lecture in Tanner Foundation)

September 2015

Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand

April 2015

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas

April 2015

Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus

November 2014

Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus

November 2014

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas

May 2014

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

April 2014

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas

April 2014

Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling

December 2013

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip

August 2013

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet

November 2012

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip

November 2012

Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu

October 2012

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip

March 2012

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet

December 2011

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip

October 2011

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

September 2011

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

February 2011

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet

November 2010

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip

August 2010

Defence Minister Jaak Aaviksoo

April 2010

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip

 

to Estonia

May 2016

President Sauli Niinistö on a State Visit

May 2015

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä on his first visit

May 2015

Foreign Minister Timo Soini on his first visit

October 2014

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Lenita Toivakka

September 2014

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, at the meeting of the FMs of the Nordic-Baltic 8

June 2014

Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, on his first visit as PM

April 2014

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, at the Freedom Online Coalition conference in Tallinn

March 2014

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, at the meeting of the FMs of the Nordic Baltic 8 and Visegrád countries

August 2013

Defence Minister Carl Haglund

June 2013

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen

September 2012

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja

April 2012

President Sauli Väinämö Niinistö on an official visit

April 2012

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen

January 2012

President Tarja Halonen on a farewell visit

October 2011

Defence Minister Stefan Wallin

August 2011

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb

July 2011

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja

June 2011

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen

December 2010

Defence Minister Jyri Häkämies

June 2010

Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi

June 2010

Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb

May 2010

President Tarja Halonen





Significant agreements

Treaties between the two countries have been developed extensively. As of 1 May 2004, economic relations are governed by the regulations of the EU’s internal market. There are 32 bilateral agreements between Estonia and Finland, of which the following are the most significant:

  • Agreement Between the Republic of Estonia and Republic of Finland Abolishing the Requirement to Legalise Population Registry Documents (came into force 1 July 2012)
  • Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Finland on the Mutual Protection of Confidential Information (came into force 5 June 2007)
  • Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Finland on the Reciprocal Holding of Stocks of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products (came into force 23 December 2006)
  • Agreement on Joint Implementation Projects for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Concentrations (came into force 19 Jan 2004)
  • Agreement on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (came into force 6 Jun 2002);
  • Agreement Regarding the Readmission of Persons Whose Entry or Residence is Illegal(came into force 3 Oct 1996)
  • Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 30 Dec 1993)
  • Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 3 Dec 1992).
  • Agreement on Cultural and Educational Co-operation between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Finland; the so-called "Intellectual Co-operation Convention" (originally signed in 1937, came into force again in 1992).

Co-operation

Relations between Estonia and Finland are characterised by strong historic ties. The close contacts between the two countries encompass many fields, from economy to culture.

Estonians are the largest group of foreign citizens in Finnish society (22% of all foreigners based on 2014 data). As of November 2015, a total of 68,600 Estonians live in Finland, (50,000 Estonian citizens at a permanent address and over 18,000 at a temporary address).

According to Statistics Estonia’s 2015 data, 7,321 Finnish citizens live in Estonia, but the number is estimated to be closer to 9000. The majority of them live in Tallinn or close to Tallinn. Over 1,000 students from Finland are studying in Estonia.

Defence co-operation

Co-operation between Estonia and Finland in defence matters is active and includes regularly occurring political and defence consultations as well as shared practical endeavours. In 2012, Estonian and Finnish Defence Ministers Mart Laar and Stefan Wallinn signed a framework document on further defence cooperation between Estonia and Finland 2012-2015. Based on the agreement, information will be exchanged regarding the security situation in the Baltic Sea, conservation planning, the development of military capabilities, defense research development activities and in the field of cyber security. Co-operation will also continue in the areas of Defence Forces education and training, as well as regarding EU battle groups and the NATO Response Force.

There has been close co-operation in defense education and military training. Good co-operation also continues in the field of joint procurement and arms control. Finland has supported the Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) by dispatching an instructor.

In May of 2015, Finnish-Estonian cooperation as part of the UN mission UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) began, where Estonia is contributing with one infantry platoon size unit within the Finnish-Irish joint battalion. UNIFIL's mission is to prevent the emergence of hostile activities, support the Lebanese armed forces in southern Lebanon, and to coordinate the activites of the governments of Lebanon and Israel in this matter, also to help ensure the availability of humanitarian aid to civilians and to support the voluntary and safe return home of internally displaced persons.

Cyber security co-operation is increasing. On 13 October 2015 Finland signed an agreement to become a Contributing Participant of the NATO Cyber Defence Center; the Finnish flag was hoisted at the center on 3 November 2015. Two Finnish experts currently work at the center.

Finland is participating in the work of the project-based NATO Cyber ​​Defence Centre in Estonia, where they have sent two experts.

E-governance co-operation

Estonia and Finland cooperate in developing e-governance and e-information exchange. On December 10, 2013 the prime ministers of the two countries Andrus Ansip and Jyrki Katainen gave their digital signatures to the memorandum of understanding on e-data exchange and X-Road cooperation. With the signing of the memorandum, Estonia and Finland agreed to cooperatively develop the national data exchange layer, also known as the X-Road solution. In autumn of 2015, the Palveluväylä (based on the X-Road) test version was launched in Finland, which allows e-services to be offered and used cross-border.

The following initiatives have been made regarding the two countries' common public e-services, and data exchange: the tax agencies of the two countries have tested the flow of data between the institutions, with co-operative jobs have being studied by social security agencies in Finland and Estonia.

In early February of 2015, an Estonian-Finnish joint analysis of governance in OECD countries was completed, which reviewed the potential of joint cross-border e-services and infrastructure development. The OECD's recommendation is to develop and agree on a more precise road map for the development of cross-border data exchange and services. Currently, negotiations are being held to develop the launch of such a roadmap.

Co-operation in interior and justice issues

Good, direct relations have been established between institutions under the jurisdiction of the ministries of the interior. Co-operation in the prevention of crime is of considerable importance to the police, border guards and customs services. The co-operation of the Estonia-Finland anti-narcotics working group has been very successful.

Close and effective co-operation also takes place in the justice sector. Close and effective co-operation is being done in the area of justice. Estonian and Finnish prisons have established direct contacts, there is an exchange of information and reciprocal access and study visits.

There is very good co-operation between public prosecutors in Estonia and Finland; there is a cooperation agreement between the two countries which has been in force since 1995, which allows both countries to communicate with each other in their own language in criminal matters and legal aid co-operation. Finland's closest international cooperation in criminal matters is with Estonia. Since 1998, every spring, roundtables for agencies involved in legal advice cooperation on criminal matters take place alternately in Helsinki and Tallinn. Officials from the Ministry of Justice, State Prosecutor's Office and Criminal Police of both countries participate at the meetings.

Estonian and Finnish courts are cooperating closely on a daily basis, although there is a increasing number of cross-border court cases. Estonian and Finnish courts constantly need each other's help in conducting legal procedures. The cooperation involved long-distance interrogations and sessions all the way to execution of court decisions.

The Estonian Forensic Science Istitute, Patent Office and Estonian Competition Authority also communicate professionally with their Finnish colleagues. There are regular work meetings, specialists visit each other professionally and training courses for experts are held.

Environmental co-operation

Environmental co-operation between the two countries is extensive, and special attention is paid to ensuring the safety of the Baltic Sea environment. Estonia and Finland along with the other Baltic Sea states have made great efforts in having the Baltic Sea recognised as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). In the name of improving the situation of the Baltic Sea environment, co-operation is taking place within the framework of HELCOM and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Activities initiated in 2014, within the framework of the Gulf of Finland Year have continued in the form of three-sided cooperation by Estonia, Finland and Russia, with the goal of determining the state of the ecosystem of the Gulf of Finland and make proposals to improve the situation by the year 2021.

Educational and research co-operation

One condition that sets the stage for close bilateral educational co-operation is an adequate and thorough knowledge of each other’s history, and the importance of this has been confirmed by, among others, the presidents of both countries. The education ministries of both Estonia and Finland have expressed their readiness to advance reciprocal language instruction on all educational levels. Considering the growing Estonian community in Finland, the issue of Estonian-language education is becoming more and more relevant. In 2012, an Estonian-Finnish bilingual kindergarten was opened in Helsinki and in the autumn of 2015, a branch in Espoo was also opened. In the autumn of 2015, an Estonian-Finnish bilingual kindergarten also opened in Turku. Both are private kindergartens, although both countries have contributed to their opening and ongoing work. In 2008 a bilingual class for Estonian children was opened at Latokartano School in Helsinki. As of the fall of 2009 there were already five Estonian-Finnish classes in Helsinki.

An Estonian language teacher MA curriculum was open in the fall semester of 2014 at the University of Helsinki. This allows the acquisition of the profession of Estonian language teacher, but also to raise the qualification to meet Finnish requirements for those who have completed their teacher education in Estonia. It is possible to study Estonian in many Finnish universities (Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, and Oulu, and in the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu). The spread of Estonian-language education has been helped greatly by the Finnish Estonian-Language Education Society founded in 2007, which does work to help open more Estonian-language kindergartens.  Since 2009 a successful project has been underway within the framework of which Estonian teachers and cultural figures have given Estonia-themed lessons at various Finnish schools.

The instruction of Finnish in Estonia has been supported by the Estonian government in cooperation with the Finnish Institute in Estonia. The purpose of the agreement, which was contracted in 2011, is to support teaching Finnish language in Estonian schools, regular teacher training and the purchase of teaching materials. Finnish is taught in a few dozen Estonian high schools as an elective subject. In vocational schools, Finnish language classes are primarily found in the service curriculums. A big step was made when the professorate of Finnish language and culture was opened at Tartu University in September 2006. It is possible to study Finnish language and culture at Tartu and Tallinn universities.

The Institute of the Estonian Language is preparing the "Great Estonian-Finnish Dictionary", which contains about 93 000 keywords. Hopefully it will be ready for the end of the 100th birthday of the Republic of Finland and beginning of the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia (at the end of 2017 / beginning of 2018).

Co-operation between Estonian and Finnish research communities and enterprises is constantly increasing. The number of cases of Estonian and Finnish researchers co-publishing has grown steadily – if 101 joint scientific publications were published in 2006, then in 2013 that figure was already 373. The aim is to not only continue with the European Union's Framework Programme, but also to continue to co-operate bilaterally and multilaterally, such as with the BONUS program and NordForsk program. The Academy of Finland and the Estonian Research Agency are using their experts reciprocally, for instance at research infrastructure competitions. The creation of the joint Estonian-Finnish fast channel (FinEst Beam) at the MAX IV Laboratory in Lund, Sweden is a positive example of the development of research infrastructure. From the Estonian side, the partner is the University of Tartu. Nanomaterials are being studied with the help of a particle accelerator, e.g. the material of the batteries of future electric cars. The integration of the Estonian environmental observatory’s measuring station with Finland in the joint Smear Network can also be highlighted. The SMEAR station studying the effect of atmosphere biosphere interactions founded at Järvselja along with the 130 m high mast is part of the Estonian research infrastructure object the “Estonian Environmental Observatory” and it is a partner of the Finnish SMEARS stations network.

Co-operation is also onging in the development of e-learning. On January 29, 2014 the education minister of Estonia and Finland Krista Kiuru and Jaak Aaviksoo signed a memorandum of understanding for the introduction and development of cloud technology and for promoting cooperative work in the field of education between the two countries. Digital learing resources will be gathered together in the environment for managing and using the digital learning environment called the Education Cloud or EduCloud, which can be used by both students and teachers. The first thing to be done will be the creation of a nation-wide search system and possibilities for authentication and authorization.

 

Economic relations

Data from the Statistics Estonia, the Bank of Estonia and Enterprise Estonia have been used.

All the major economic agreements have been concluded between Estonia and Finland, including agreements for the facilitation and protection of investments, economic co-operation and aid, avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion, an aviation agreement, and an agreement for reciprocal customs aid and road transport. As of May 1, 2004 Estonia and Finland’s bilateral economic relations are regulated by the rules of the EU internal market.

TRADE

Finland has long been Estonia's most important economic and trade partner. As of 2015, Finland continues to be Estonia’s largest trading partner (15,2% of all trade). Finland is our main import partner (14,5%) and the second largest export partner after Sweden (16%). The main export articles to Finland are machinery and equipment (27,5%), metals and metal products (13,64%), other industrial products (10,8%) and wood and wood products (7,6%). The main articles imported from Finland to Estonia are machinery and equipment (23,3%), mineral products (20,2%), metals and metal products (10,9%) and transportation vehicles (5,6%). The balance of trade is negative for Estonia.

Estonian-Finnish trade 2006-2014 (in millions EUR)

Year

Export

 % of total export

Import

% of total import

Balance

2006

1 391.1

18.0

1 939.3

18.1

- 548.2

2007

1 422.0

17.7

1 772.2

15.5

- 350.2

2008

1 557.9

18.4

1 540.1

14.1

17.8

2009

1 201.4

18.5

1 047.2

14.4

154.2

2010

1 487.6

17.0

1 378.1

14.9

109.5

2011

1 807.8

15.0

1 604.5

12.6

203.3

2012

1 817.8

14.5

2 105.7

14.9

-287.9

2013

1 984.2

16.1

2 087.3

15.0

-103.1

2014

1 847.5

15.3

2 092.3

15.3

-244.8

2015

1 860.7

16.0

1 894.5

14.5

-33.8

All economic figures originate from the Statistical Office of Estonia

INVESTMENTS AND BUSINESS

Finland has been one of the two biggest investors in the Estonian economy during the entire period of Estonian independence (in second place after Sweden). According to the Bank of Estonia, in 2015 22.6% of the total amount of direct investment to Estonia came from Finland, totaling 3.9 billion euros. The greatest investment has been in the real estate sector (30.2%), manufacturing (22.7%), wholesale and retail trade (14.1%) and financial and insurance activities (6.5%).

In the list of Estonia's foreign investment target countries, Finland rank in fourth place. As of 2015, Estonia's direct investments in Finland made up 7.1% of all investments made in foreign countries (an increase of 1.7% compared to 2014, 120 million euros) totalling 0.4 billion euros. Estonian investments in Finland are primarily in the finance and insurance industry (23.9%), the manufacturing industry (21.7%), the transportation and inventory sector (20.4%) and the real estate sector (15.4%).

According to the Commercial Registry, as of the beginning of 2016, there was a total of 5503 companies with partial Finnish-ownership in Estonia (2942 companies with 100% Finnish capital).

Enterprise Estonia, trade association and Chamber of Commerce

As of 2002 there is a representation of Enterprise Estonia functioning in Helsinki. The goal of its activities is to introduce possibilities in Estonia to Finnish investors and help Estonian companies that are entering the Finnish market.

The Finnish-Estonian Trade Association (SEKY, www.seky.fi), established in 1990, comprises Finnish enterprises active in Estonia and enterprises potentially interested in Estonia. The main purpose of SEKY is to establish business contacts and to improve relations between Estonian and Finnish businesses. In Estonia the Finnish-Estonian Chamber of Commerce (FECC, www.fecc.ee) has similar goals – to mediate business contacts and provide its members with information about the Estonian economy.

In the fall of 2007 the Estonian Embassy, the Finnish-Estonian Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Estonia and local Finnish chambers of commerce co-operated to start up a series of seminars introducing the Estonian economy entitled "Verkotu Viroon". Seminars have been carried out in Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Kotka, and Helsinki; there are plans to continue holding events in other cities.

TOURISM

Finland is Estonia's most important tourist destination. The share of all Finns in the total number of tourists hosted in Estonia based on 2015 data is, as in previous years, very high - 42.1% of all overnight stays. In 2015 the number of tourists from Finland totalled 907 052, which is slightly less than the record set in 2014 of 915 540. According to Bank of Estonia statistics, there was a total of 2.4 million visits from Finland to Estonia in 2014.

Finland has also been the main foreign travel destination of Estonians. According to the data of the Estonian Statistics Centre, in 2015 217 000 Estonian tourists stayed at overnight accommodation establishments in Finland.

ENERGY CO-OPERATION

Energy co-operation between Finland and Estonia has intensified significantly in recent years . The most important cooperative project currently ongoing is the construction of the gas pipeline Balticconnector between Estonia and Finland. The Balticconnector roadmap was signed between Estonia, Finland and the European Commission in July of 2014.

Estonian and Finnish developers have committed to submit a project for funding to the Connecting Europe Facility, CEF in the 2016 spring round. A gas pipeline between the two countries should be ready by 2020.

On March 6, 2014, the submarine power cable Estlink-2 was opened between Estonia and Finland, which complements the Estlink-1 cable which began working in 2006. The transmission capacity of the two cables totals 1,000 MW. In June 2013, the first block of the Kiisa emergency power plant, jointly constructed by Elering and FI Wärtsilä, began operations. The second block of the station opened in 2014. Together, the two are able to generate one-sixth of Estonian maximum capacity. The plant is based on Wärtsilä diesel generators and operates on both diesel and natural gas. The Kiisa emergency power plant is among the most modern in the Nordic and Baltic countries.

TRANSPORTION

In the area of transportation, Estonia and Finland cooperate regarding a number of issues. A memorandum of ice breaking has been concluded between Finland, Sweden and Estonia, which is an excellent example of regional cooperation, and collectively helps to achieve greater efficiency and cut down on costs. Estonian and Finnish ice breaking cooperation helps contribute to the unhindered movement of trade flows in the region.

Estonia is also interested in cooperation with Finland and other Nordic countries in the launch of a common and innovative ticket system – MaaS is a model for providing mobility, where the client's main transport needs are resolved through an interface and service provider. In the case of transportation, it would offer for example a certain number of rides on public transport, taxi rides, car rental, a certain number of long-distance bus rides, etc.

To improve connections between Tallinn and Helsinki and more widely between Estonia and Finland, the ports of Tallinn and Helsinki (Projekt TwinPort), and also governments and state agencies are working together. FinEst Smart Mobility has submitted an application to Interreg, which deals with various mobility projects (access to ports, mobile parking, integrated ticketing system).

Estonia also highly appreciates Finland’s support of the Rail Baltic project, the realisation of which is one of the prerequisites for the continuation of plans for a tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn. Finland wants to contribute to the Rail Baltic project not as a contracting party, but rather with their experience, since Finland has previously contracted such transnational agreements to construct transport’s infrastructure. Finnish representatives are involved in the regular Task Force meetings.

Agriculture

The two countries’ Ministries of Agriculture and administrative authorities co-operate by exchanging information; the agriculture ministers and secretary generals of the two countries also meet on a regular basis.

Opportunities for reciprocal internships of officials in both countries’ ministries and subordinate organisations have been agreed to. Co-operation and information exchange also occurs on a subject-based manner, for instance in the field of bio economy (bio economic strategy), and within the framework of regional co-operation.

Finland is a very important destination country for campaigns introducing Estonian food and food culture.

 

Cultural co-operation

Estonia-Finland cultural ties are extremely close. The number and quality of reciprocal events introducing Estonian and Finnish culture are substantial.

The idea came about to establish an Estonian House in Helsinki to support the Estonian population in Finland and entrepreneurship in Finland. The Estonian House (Viro-keskus) opened in 2010 is a “new generation” Estonian House, which brings together factions that represent Estonia (Estonian Institute, Tourism Development), that promote export and obtain investments (Enterprise Estonia), and that promote Estophilia and support the adjustment of newcomers (Tuglas Society) all under one roof. In Estonia, the development of Finland-Estonia cultural and economic relations has since 1994 been overseen by the Finnish Institute, led by director Anu Laitila.

Following the “Intellectual Co-operation Convention”, hõimupäevad (“Tribal Days”) are celebrated in Estonia, Finland and Hungary every year on the third weekend of October (since 1991 Finno-Ugric people from Russia also joined this tradition). From the standpoint of the existence and awareness-raising of the situation of Finno-Ugric peoples, their languages and cultures, the world congresses of Finno-Ugric peoples are very important. The last, 7thWorld Congress of  Finno-Ugric peoples was held in Lahti on June 15-17, 2016.

 

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