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Estonia - Australia relations

26.07.2017

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Australia first recognized Estonia on September 22, 1921, after Estonia's acceptance into the League of Nations. From 1919-1935, Estonia’s interests in Australia were represented by the Finnish Consulate (in 1922 Harold Tanner, a Finn, was named Deputy Honorary Consul in Sydney). In 1935 Estonia appointed its own honorary consul; the work of the consulate was interrupted in 1940 and its records were given to the Swedish Consulate for storage (today they have been returned to Estonia).

Australia was among the first countries to re-recognize Estonia's independence on August 27, 1991, while diplomatic relations were restored on November 21, 1991.

Embassy of Estonia in Canberra was opened in February 2015. The Ambassador of Estonia to Australia is Andres Unga, who presented his credentials to Governor-General Quentin Bryce on March 28, 2013. Ambassador Unga is also accredited to New Zealand, Indonesia and ASEAN.

Estonia has six Honorary Consuls in Australia: Mr. Jaak Oks in Adelaide (consular area: South Australia), Dr. Delaney Michael Skerrett in Brisbane (Queensland), Dr. Peter Thomas Sexton in Hobart (Tasmania), Mr. Lembit Marder in Melbourne (Victoria), Ms. Anu Ethel van Hattem in Perth (Western Australia) and Mr. Sulev Kalamäe in Sydney (New South Wales).

Australia covers Estonia in political affairs through the Embassy of Australia in Stockholm and in visa questions through the Embassy of Australia in Berlin. Ambassador of Australia Jonathan Charles Kenna presented his credentials on December 20, 2016. Australia’s Honorary Consul in Estonia is Mati Peekma.

Visits

To Australia
February 2016Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand
November 2011Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet
April 2009Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet
March 2008Speaker of Parliament (Riigikogu) Ene Ergma with a delegation
April 2000Speaker of Parliament (Riigikogu) Toomas Savi with a delegation

 

To Estonia
April 2017Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop
October 2013President of Australian Senate John Hogg
April 2002Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock (private visit)
May 2000Minister of Environment Senator Robert Hill (private visit)

Agreements

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Estonia and the Government of Australia Relating to Working Holiday Visas was concluded on May 20, 2005.

The Social Security Agreement between Estonia and Australia was signed on September 14, 2015 and is expected to commence in 2017, subject to completion of the necessary treaty, legislative and administrative processes in both countries.
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Economic Relations

Goods exchange with Australia has been unstable over the past few years, especially in terms of Estonia’s exports to Australia. However, the balance has always been positive for Estonia. Primary export articles are wood and wood products (about 2/3 of exports), machinery and equipment, prepared foods, and measuring equipment. Imports mainly consist chemical products,  machinery and equipment, and alcoholic beverages, made up 70.2%, prepared foods 14.4%, and optical, photo and medical devices 6.8%.


Estonian – Australian trade in 2006–2017 (in millions EUR)

YearExportImportBalance
20065.32.82.5
20073.51.42.1
20089.01.47.6
20098.71.86.9
201024.30.923.3
201124.28.016.8
201222.42.320.1
201323.17.715,4
201425.63.122.5
201534.46.727.7
201632.612.320.3
2017*16.67.39.3

* May 2017

Source: Statistical Office of Estonia

Investments

Australian companies have made relatively few direct investments in Estonia. According to the Bank of Estonia, as of June 30, 2014 Australian direct investments in Estonia totalled 3.3 million euros (in real estate, finance and insurance sectors).

As of the same date, Estonian investments in Australia totalled 7.6 million euros (mainly in finance and insurance sectors)

Cultural Relations

Estonian culture has been introduced in Australia by many Estonian artists and musicians, including the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste, Camerata Tallinn, Ellerhein choir, pianists Tanel Joamets and Toomas Vana, composer Arvo Pärt – honorary doctor of Sydney University – the Pärnu theatre "Endla", the Tallinn University of Technology Men’s Choir, conductor Neeme Järvi and the oratorio "Jonah's Mission", and others.

At the end of December 2012, the 24th Estonian Days in Australia took place in Sydney. The main performers at the Estonian Days were Kaire Vilgats, Jaagup Kreem, Taavi Langi, and a troupe from the Estonian State Pupper Theatre.

On 1-13 November, 2012, an exhibition entitled “forEST” by Estonian jewelry artists Linda al-Assi, Anni Kagovere, Merle Kasonen, and Maarja Niinemägi was displayed at the Gaffa gallery in Sydney.

In 2003 the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Arvo Volmer, Olari Elts and Kristjan Järvi (for a total of 12 concerts). Arvo Volmer has been the music director of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra since 2004. In the summer of 2010 his production of Puccini’s opera “The Girl of the Golden West” debuted at the Sydney Opera House. In 2012, he conducted two operas there – Verdi’s “Aida” and Puccini’s “Turando”. Erkki-Sven Tüür performed a concert in Sydney on 19 November 2011.

Estonians in Australia

Culture historian Valdemar Vilder, who lives in Sydney, discovered that three Estonian sailors were on board one of the first European vessels to visit Australia back in 1697. Barent Jans from Tallinn and Martinus Stypen and Christian Clajus from Tartu served under Captain Willem de Valminagh.

Records show that the first Estonians settled in Australia in 1853. The first Estonian Society was established in Melbourne in 1914. People settled primarily around Sydney, where two Estonian societies (that later merged) were established in the 1920s. The first displaced persons of World War II arrived in 1947 (142 Estonians).

Number of persons born in Estonia residing in Australia

Census year Number
20068,232 (Estonian decent) + 1,933 (Estonia born)
20118,551 (Estonian decent) + 1,928 (Estonia-born)

According to the 1986 census, there were 6,334 residents of Estonian ancestry in Australia, in 1996 the number was 7,537, and 2006 census reported the number as 8,232. Australia has the sixth largest Estonian community after Finland, Russia, Sweden, Canada, and the USA. Sir Arvi Parbo, the mining magnate, is one of the most well-known Estonians in Australia.

The largest Estonian communities are in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, which also have Estonian community houses. In Thirlmere, which is located near Sydney, there is an Estonian village that was established in 1924. Estonian culture days have been held in Australia on 13 occasions during the period 1954-1986. In 1988, the world Estonian festival ESTO'88 was organised in Australia. "Forest universities" (“Metsaülikoolid”) have been held yearly since 1971. Estonians have one regularly published newspaper in Australia - "Meie Kodu" (“Our Home”). The Estonian Archives in Australia, located in Sydney, were established in 1952 and hold the vast majority of all printed Estonian works that were published outside of Estonia following World War II.

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