(last updated: 14.05.2015)
Germany first recognised Estonia's independence de jure on 9 July 1921. Diplomatic relations between Estonia and Germany were restored on 28 August 1991. Thereafter, the respective embassies were re-opened in Bonn and Tallinn. In February 1999, Germany opened its new embassy building in Tallinn. Estonia’s historical embassy building in Berlin re-opened its doors in a formal ceremony attended by President Lennart Meri on 27 September 2001.
Estonian ambassadors to Germany:
Tiit Matsulevitš (05.09.1991–27.08.1996)
Margus Laidre (27.08.1996–18.05.2000)
Riina Kionka (24.08.2000–31.07.2004)
Clyde Kull (26.08.2004-31.07.2008)
Mart Laanemäe (27.08.2008-31.07.2012)
Kaja Tael (04.09.2012- )
Estonian honorary consuls to Germany:
Ulf Lange, Hamburg
Horst Werner Maier-Hunke, Düsseldorf
Helmut Aurenz, Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg
Klaus Luft, München
Klaus Hinrich Vater, Kiel
German ambassadors to Estonia:
Henning von Wistinghausen (02.09.1991-22.10.1995)
Bernd Mützelburg (25.10.1995-01.08.1999)
Gerhard Enver Schrömbgens (23.08.1999-06.07.2002)
Jürgen Dröge (26.09.2002-20.06.2005)
Julius Bobinger (04.08.2005-19.06.2009)
Martin Hanz (16.09.2009 - 29.07.2011)
Christian Matthias Schlaga (28.09.2011 - )
Estonia and Germany’s membership in the European Union and NATO provides a framework for bilateral communication. Shared aspects of culture and history also continue to be an uniting factor in relations. The closeness and frequency of bilateral contacts has grown year by year and good co-operation has developed on the level of the countries’ governments, parliaments, and local governments.
||Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
||Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen
||Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; Minister-President of the state of Schleswig-Holstein Torsten Albig
||Bavarian State Minister for Federal and European Union Affairs Emilia Müller; Minister-President of the state of Schleswig-Holstein Torsten Albig; Minister-President of the state of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich
||Minister of Economic Affairs and Technology Philipp Rösler; Minister of Finance of Baden-Württemberg Nils Schmid
||President of Bundestag Norbert Lammert
|Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner, President Christian Wulff
||Minister of Defence Franz Jospeph Jung
||Minister of Economy of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg Ernst Pfister, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel
||Prime Minister of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein Peter Harry Carstensen, Vice President of Bundestag Susanne Kastner, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Michael Glos, Minister of Internal Affairs of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein Ralf Stegner, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
||Minister of State for Europe Günter Gloser, Minister of Justice, Employment and European Affairs of Schleswig-Holstein Uwe Döring, President of the Bundesrat- upper house of the German parliament and Prime Minister of the federal state Schleswig-Holstein Peter Harry Carstensen, President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert
||Prime Minister of the federal state of Thuringia Dieter Althaus together with Minister of Economic Affairs, Technology and Work Jürgen Reinholz, Federal President Horst Köhler; the Prime Minister and mayor of the state of Hamburg Ole Beust
||Prime Minister of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein Heide Simonis, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer, Minister of Finance Hans Eichel, Minister of Agriculture Renate Künast, Federal President Horst Köhler
||Prime Minister of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Harald Ringstorff, Prime Minister of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein Heide Simonis, the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit
||Vice president of the Bundestag Antje Vollmer
||German Minister of Finance Hans Eichel, German Minister of Defence Rudolf Scharping, Business delegation of Saxony headed by Minister of Economic Affairs and Labour Dr Kajo Schommer, Prime Minister of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Harald Ringstorff
||Prime Minister of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Harald Ringstorff , Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, President of the Bundesrat and Minister-President of Saxony Kurt Biedenkopf
||Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves; Prime Minister Andrus Ansip; Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi; Minister of Social Affairs Taavi Rõivas
||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves; Prime Minister Andrus Ansip; Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts
||Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts, Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder
||Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
|Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Minister of Culture Laine Jänes, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Social Minister Hanno Pevkur
||Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts, Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts, Minister of Population Affairs Urve Palo, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, President Arnold Rüütel, Minister of Culture Raivo Palmaru, Minister of Agriculture Ester Tuiksoo, Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Edgar Savisaar, President of the Riigikogu Toomas Varek, Minister of Internal Affairs Kalle Laanet, Minister of Social Affairs Jaak Aab
||Minister of Culture Raivo Palmaru; Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Defence Minister Jaak Jõerüüt, Minister of Agriculture Ester Tuiksoo
||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland, Prime Minister Juhan Parts, Minister of Agriculture Tiit Tammsaar; Minister of Social Affairs Marko Pomerants; Minister of Culture Urmas Paet
||President Arnold Rüütel, Prime Minister Juhan Parts, Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland, Defence Minister Margus Hanson
||Chairman of the Riigikogu Toomas Savi, Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland, Defence Minister Sven Mikser
||President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Laar, Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Defence Minister Jüri Luik
||Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves , President Lennart Meri
Estonia and Germany’s ties are based upon a multi-faceted agreement base. Since 1 May 2004, economic ties between the two nations have been governed by the EU’s internal market rules, and areas under the jurisdiction of individual member states are governed by bilateral agreements.
- Joint Statement on the Basis of the Relationship (came into force 29 Apr 1993);
- Agreement on Assigning German Teachers to Estonian Schools (came into force 21 Mar 1994);
- General agreement on defence-related co-operation and agreement on the securing the conditions of mutual working visits (came into force 21 Sep1994);
- Agreement on German Wartime Graveyards in the Republic of Estonia (came into force 26 Oct 1996);
- Agreement on Commercial Seafaring (came into force 6 Jun 1996);
- Framework Agreement on Counselling and Co-operation (came into force 28 Feb 1997);
- Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 12 Jan 1997).
- Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 30 Dec 1998);
- Agreement on the Readmission of Persons and the Implementation Protocol of the Agreement (came into force 1. Mar 1999);
- Agreement on the Mutual Abolishment of the Visa Requirements (came into force 1 Mar 1999);
- Agreement on Reciprocal Protection of Classified Information (came into force 8 Feb 2001);
- Agreement on Cultural Co-operation (came into force 15 Aug 2002);
- Aviation agreement (came into force 27 Mar 2002);
- Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on co-operation among schools (came into force 4 August 2010).
The legal basis for defence-related co-operation was established on 21 September 1994 with the conclusion of a memorandum of mutual understanding, in which the primary areas for co-operation were training, procurements, and logistics.
In recent years, Estonia and Germany’s defence-related cooperation has been active and broad-based, focusing mainly on practical co-operation. Germany has supported the air policing over the Baltic states and participated in the work of the Baltic Defence College and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.
Germany has made a significant contribution to the training of Estonian soldiers and participated in many procurements for equipment and technology to be used by the Defence Forces.
Since fall of 2014, Lieutenant colonel Mark Trubok has worked as the Estonian defence attaché in Germany. Since September 2010, Germany’s defence attaché to Estonia is Lieutenant Colonel Axel Pfaffenroth, who resides in Helsinki.
Close relations between Estonia and the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein were established two decades ago. Today Estonian towns and county governments communicate with nearly 20 regions in Schleswig-Holstein. In 2011 events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of a friendship agreement between Kiel and Tallinn took place in Kiel.
Partnership ties have been created among schools and congregations, and dozens of Estonian students are studying at the universities of Schleswig-Holstein (mainly in Kiel). In September 1995, the Bureau of the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein was opened in Tallinn. Based on the partnership between the chambers of commerce of Tallinn and Kiel, a German economic agency was established in Estonia, which at present bears the name of the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce.
The Ministry of Agriculture has good experiences in co-operation with the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. In 1992, a co-operation protocol was signed that has been recurrently extended.
In 2011 an Estonian honorary consulate was re-opened in Kiel, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein. Estonia has participated in the cultural and economic event “Kiel Days” taking place every year in June. Estonia films have been included in the programme of the notable film festival “Nordische Filmtage Lübeck”. In 2011 the FolkBaltica festival took place in Schleswig-Holstein, where the major event was the concert “Voices of the Capitals of Culture”, which included choirs and groups from former and future Capitals of Culture located along the Baltic Sea. Tallinn was represented by Aarne Saluveer with the ETV Girls’ Choir, who gave many concerts as well as a master class for music teachers.
In 2012 a performance and reception dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Council of Baltic Sea States took place at the representation of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, where the cultural representative of the Baltic countries was musician Andres Mustonen.
In 2014, the partner state of "Saksa Kevad" (meaning German Spring / Deutscher Frühling) was Schleswig-Holstein. The Minister-President of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein Torsten Albig took part in the opening ceremonies of "Saksa Kevad" at the KUMU art museum.
Contacts between Estonia and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania were established back in the 1970s, when friendship relations were initiated between the cities of Schwerin and Tallinn and between the counties of Parchim and Valga. In the 1970s and 1980s, student exchanges were conducted between Tallinn Pedagogical Institute and Güstrow Pedagogische Hochschule for the purpose of language practice. Greifswald University (Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald) has the Nordisches Institut, where Estonian is taught in addition to Scandinavian and Finno-Ugric studies.
Agriculture-related contacts between Estonia and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania were established in 1999. The co-operation programme most recently signed for 2008-2010 sets goals for co-operation in higher education, organic agriculture, and the preservation of agricultural cultural heritage.
Regarding bilateral cultural events, one that bears mentioning is the first foreign scholars’ exhibit “Blick von aussen” that took place in Schwerin on the initiative of the local Kunstverein. Estonia was represented in the exhibit by artist Ly Lestberg.
Estonia and Sachen-Anhalt are tied by very close economic relations. In November 2000 a Contact Bureau of the federal state of Sachsen-Anhalt was opened in Tallinn. Reciprocal economic, agricultural and business delegation visits have taken place along with co-operation between parliaments. In November 2004, the visit of Prime Minister Juhan Parts took place accompanied by a business delegation. Co-operation also takes place between parliaments. In October 2005, Prime Minister of the German state, Sachsen-Anhalt Wolfgang Böhmer visited Estonia.
Cooperation in the area of agriculture continues on the basis of a co-operation memorandum signed in 2006. Estonia has been represented with its own stand at the world’s biggest agricultural and food fair Grüne Woche since 1993. In January 2013 Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder signed an International Green Week partnership agreement, according to which Estonia became a Grüne Woche partner country in 2014. The status of partner country provided the Estonian food production sector with the opportunity to boost the reputation of Estonian food in Western Europe, emphasise the high quality of our food products, and increase interest in our businesses.
Estonia’s contacts with the state of Baden-Württemberg have become pleasantly close over the last few years. One very important step for developing co-operation was the memorandum of mutual understanding between EAS and Baden-Württemberg-International signed on 11 November 2008, which allows Estonian businesses to find partners among Baden-Württemberg businesses, universities and research and science institutions and to participate in business visits to the state of Baden-Württemberg. Estonia was represented in the innovation hall of the 2012 industry fair in Hannover with a group stand that included 11 Estonian companies. That same year a contract trip for Estonian entrepreneurs to Baden-Württemberg was organised by EAS, with the goal of creating initial contacts with the German companies that were to be visited.
The high point of bilateral relations between Estonia and the state of Baden-Württemberg could be the visit of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and entrepreneurs dealing with renewable energy and energy technology to Stuttgart from 14-16 July 2009. During the business seminar that took place within the visit, investment opportunities in Estonia were introduced to businessmen in Baden-Württemberg.
Productive co-operation ties have sprung up between institutions of higher learning in Estonia and Baden-Württemberg. From 22-26 March 2010 the rectors of Estonian institutes of higher education visited Stuttgart, Ulm, Karlsruhe and Heidelberg. In the city of Karlsruhe, the organisation Estnische Gesellschaft e.V. brings together Estonians living abroad. From 11-14 August 2010 the state secretary of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts visited Tallinn and became acquainted with Tallinn as the European Capital of Culture 2011.
In the city of Karlsruhe the organisation Estnische Gesellschaft e.V. brings the Estonian community
Close relations between the universities in Estonia and Saxony have existed for decades and many present day Estonian engineers received their education in the universities of Dresden, Leipzig or Chemnitz. The co-operation of these universities with the Tallinn Technical University continues primarily through the exchange of teachers and students and by implementing joint Research and Development projects. The Research and Development projects have been carried out in the fields of digital electronics and energy. For the present, five Estonian higher schools have partnership relations with higher schools of Saxony in the framework of the Erasmus programme.
Estonian cinema has regularly been represented at the international short film festival Filmfest Dresden. Estonian publishing houses have participated in the Leipzig Book Fair for a number of years.
A good co-operation is developed with Saxony in the field of agriculture. Saxon foods have been introduced in Estonia and a great many products have appeared on sale in our supermarkets.
Estonia has had the most contacts with Bavaria in the economic realm. In November 2003, Prime Minister Juhan Parts met with Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber in Munich, where he opened the Estonian honorary consulate; there is also an Estonian School in Bavaria. Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts visited Munich in January 2011 – in addition to meeting with the Bavarian minister of economic affairs, transport and technology, he also visited local businesses.
The annual high-level security policy conference held in Munich has seen participation by Estonian foreign and defence ministers, as well as Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
In 2011 an event introducing Estonia’s economy and culture was organised by the Munich and Upper Bavaria information centre Europe Direct; Maris Hellrand, representing Tallinn2011, gave a long presentation about Tallinn as the European Capital of Culture and Estonia in general. The event was followed by the formal opening of the aerial photo exhibit “A Bird’s Estonia” at the Munich City Library.
In 2014, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas visited the state.
Munich is one of the biggest centres of the Estonian community in Germany.
Many visits have taken place to activate economic cooperation between Estonia and the state of Thüringen. The Institut für Fügen- und Werkstoffprüfung in Jena does close cooperation with the Federation of Estonian Engineering Industry and Tallinn University of Technology. Four Estonian schools (Turba Secondary School, Valgu Primary School, Tartu Vocational Centre, and Tartu Industrial School) have friendship ties with partner schools in Thüringen.
Dr. Ulf Lange has represented Estonia as the honorary consul in Hamburg since 1993.
As of 2003, a representation of Enterprise Estonia is located in Hamburg. In November 2004 the leading regional bank in Northern Germany Vereins- und Westbank (HYPO Vereinsbank) received rights to open a branch in Tallinn.
Among the co-operation projects between Estonia and Hamburg, one can point out establishing free zones (free ports) in Estonian harbours. Traditional fairs that have always had Estonian participation are the shipbuilding fairs "SMM" and "Hansaboot", as well as the tourism fair aimed at regular tourists "Reisen". The Tallinn Harbour has participated in the cruise-related fair "Seatrade Europe", which takes place every 2 years. In recent years, the wind-energy focused fair "Windenergie" has piqued great interest among Estonians. In Hamburg, the society Pro Baltica Forum (now called the Baltic Sea Forum) functions, the aim of which beginning from its establishment in 1992 has been the promoting of international co-operation in the areas of economy, politics and culture.
Among cultural events, notable ones were the exhibit “Money and Poetry” by Siim-Tanel Annus, which was opened in the gallery of the Mare Baltikum Reisen travel agency in 2010, and the NO99 production “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Rabbit” at the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg in 2011.
The bilateral co-operation of Estonia and Nordrhein-Westfalen has to date focused on agriculture, environmental and educational issues, with an emphasis on training and interning in Germany. The biggest city in Nordhein-Westfalen, Cologne, is an internationally known fair centre, in the fairs of which Estonian enterprises have taken part for years – for instance, the fairs Anuga (foods) and Interzum (furniture). At the 2012 Interzum furniture fair, Estonia had for the first time a large joint presentation of Estonian furniture manufacturers.
The state of Nordhein-Westfalen declared 2010 the year of “Welcome Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania”, within the framework of which many events took place introducing the three small countries and their cultures and people. During the international media festival ISEA from 26-27 August 2010 in Dortmund, the schedule included the project “A day without a mobile phone” by Eve Arpo and Riin Rõõs. In September 2010 an exhibit introducing the works of 20 Estonian glass artists was opened in the well-known Glashütte Gernheim Industrial Museum in Petershagen, Nordrhein-Westfalen.
In 201the traditional cultural days of the Estonian Germans Society took place in Haus Annaberg near Bonn.
Estonia and Germany’s economic relations are primarily regulated by the rights and responsibilities of both nations as EU members, of which the most important are the principles of a common market (the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people within the borders of the common market). In addition to the previously mentioned agreements, the following bilateral economic agreements also exist between Estonia and Germany:
- Agreement on Finance Related Co-operation (came into force 10 Feb 1995);
- Agreement on Hiring Employees for the Widening of their Professional and Linguistic Skills (came into force 21 Aug 1995); The Agreement provides advanced professional and linguistic training for Estonian employees for up to 1 year (in special cases can be extended by 0.5 year) in the partner country on equal conditions with the employees of the host country;
- Framework Agreement on Counselling and Co-operation (provisionally applied on 28 Feb 1997);
- Agreement between the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Republic of Estonia and the Work and Social Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany to allow fitters of Estonian companies to erect log cabins in the Federal Republic of Germany and fitters of German companies to perform installations in the Republic of Estonia (came into force 13 Sep 02).
Bilateral economic relations with Germany take place on the state level. An important partner in promoting business diplomacy is the Enterprise Estonia branch in Hamburg.
In bilateral trade, Germany ranked as Estonia'sfourth trading partner in 2014. The total trade turnover was 2.2 billion euros, of which export made up 0.58 billion and import 1.6 billion euros. Germany’s relative importance among Estonia’s total trade is 8.4%. The three main article groups in exports to Germany continue to be machinery and equipment (17%), wood and wood products (16.7%) and other manufactured goods (16.6%). The main articles of import were machinery and equipment (27%), transportation vehicles (15.4%) and chemical products (9%).
Estonian - German trade 2005-2014 (million EUR)
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
German investments in Estonian businesses
The interest towards investing in Estonia has grown after Estonia’s accession to the European Union. As of 31.12.2014, German direct investments in Estonia totalled 303 million EUR. Most of the investments have gone into the real estate sector, but also into the manufacturing industry, construction, wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage, financial and insurance activity, and professional, scientific and technical activities. As of 31.12.2014, Estonian investments made in Germany totalled 34 million EUR. Germany ranks in 12th place among countries investing in Estonia with 1.9% of all investments.
The positive development of economic relations has been helped along by economic representations in both Estonia and Germany. Enterprise Estonia has a representation in Hamburg, whose task is to intermediate contacts between Estonian entrepreneurs, German entrepreneurs, and economic organisations. Baltic-German Chamber of Commerce belongs to the world-wide network of German Chambers of Commerce and advises German and Estonian companies in operating in Estonia and in Germany. The Chamber of Commerce brings each year several German companies to visits in Estonia. The Chamber of Commerce represents also the most important German fairs (Hannover, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart) in Estonia.
Over the years Germany has become one of Estonia’s main partners for tourism especially after Estonia joined the Schengen zone. Estonia is an appealing destination for Germans for both short and long trips (112 877 tourists).
Close and wide-reaching co-operation ties have developed between Estonian and German institutions of higher education over the years. Since 1992, the German Academic Mediation Service (DAAD)has, in the framework of the Central and Eastern European Special Programme, developed co-operation between Estonian and German universities . The German Government also supports the Euro Faculty of the University of Tartu, which was founded at the initiative of Council of the Blatic Sea States in order to develop the instruction of social sciences in the Baltic countries. The contact bureau of the Distance University of Hagen that was established at Tallinn University offers classes at the only German university at which academic studies are conducted in the form of long-distance learning.
The annual German-Estonian academic weeks in Tartu, called Academica, have become a tradition. Its patrons have been the presidents of Germany and Estonia and Academica is financially supported by German enterprises and the German Embassy. The goal of Academica is to offer Estonian and German scholars a forum to meet, find and develop contacts in their field, and also to resolve the more general challenges that research and universities face. Within the framework of the 16th Academica, held at Tartu University in November 2012, a symposium was held during which questions of ethics, science, and intellectual property in relation to the implementation of new technologies was discussed.
The education agreement signed by the two governments in 2002 helps to regulate and support the unique programme offered by Germany on the national level for those Estonian high schools where German is taught in-depth. The graduates of those schools receive both German and Estonian high school diplomas, which means that in the course of the same examination they pass the German graduation exam and the Estonian state exam. Thereafter they have rights and opportunities equal to those of graduates in Germany, as the language diploma received certifies their German language proficiency at a level sufficient for studying at German universities. The amount of German taught as a foreign language in general education schools has declined somewhat over the years, but it remains in third place after English and Russian. German is one of the subjects in which Estonian high school graduates can take a state exam.
It is possible to study Estonian language and culture at the universities of Munich, Hamburg and Göttingen. Since the fall of 2005, an Estonian language instructor sent by the Estonian state has worked in Göttingen.
The basis for Estonian-German cultural co-operation was established in 1993, when a cultural co-operation agreement was signed by the two governments. During recent years, co-operation has primarily taken place through free and unmediated cultural exchange and direct contacts. Since culture and education in Germany fall under the jurisdiction of the federal states, the greater part of co-operative efforts in those fields is enacted at the level of the federal states; cities and regions with friendship ties to Estonia.
The German Cultural Institutes active in Tallinn and Tartu are the primary promoters of German culture, and in 1998 the Goethe Institute was opened at the German Institute in Tallinn.
Since 2003 a cultural attaché has worked at the Estonian Embassy in Berlin to help create contacts and promote reciprocal cultural exchange.