Estonia and Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands recognised the Republic of Estonia on 5 March 1921. After the Soviet occupation the Netherlands re-recognised the Republic of Estonia on 2 September 1991. Diplomatic relations were restored on 21 September 1991.
The ambassador of Estonia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands is Peep Jahilo, who presented his credentials to Queen Beatrix on 6 June 2012.
The ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Estonia is Jos Schellaars, who presented his credentials to the President of the Republic on 15 February 2013.
Earlier ambassadors of the Netherlands to Estonia are:
Mr. Maurits Robbert Jochems (2010-2012)
Mrs. Joanna Van Vliet (2001 – 2005)
Mr. Hans Glaubitz (2005 – 2006)
Mr. Henk Ary Christiaan van der Zwan (2006 – 2010)
Earlier ambassadors of Estonia to the Netherlands are:
Clyde Kull, residing in Brussels (1992 – 1996)
Jüri Luik, residing in Brussels (1997 – 1999)
Tõnis Idarand and Andrus Normet, residing in The Hague as chargés d’affaires ad interim (1999 – 2002)
Priit Pallum (2002 – 2006)
Gita Kalmet (2006 – 2011)
On 15 November 2006, the ceremonial opening of the new Estonian Embassy building took place with the participation of Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in The Hague.
Estonia has three acting honorary consuls in the Netherlands. Honorary Consul Jan Brouwer resides in Rotterdam, Honorary Consul Nicolaas van de Griendt in Zwolle, and Honorary Consul Marcel van den Heuvel in Amsterdam. The honorary consulate in Zwolle was formally opened by Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on 28 June 2009. The honorary consulate in Amsterdam was opened by Ambassador Gita Kalmet on 19 December 2009.
|To the Netherlands|
|December 2011||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the conference for internet freedom|
|December 2010||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet|
|October 2009||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip|
|June 2007||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves meeting with the Queen Beatrix|
|November 2006||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet meeting with the Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard R. Bot|
|March 2006||Minister of Defence Jürgen Ligi|
|April 2005||Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs Paul-Eerik Rummo|
|May 2004||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland meeting with the Dutch PACE delegates in The Hague|
|November 2002||Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland|
|September 2001||Minister of Agriculture Ivari Padar|
|September 2011||Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal at the meeting of the Baltic and Benelux foreign ministers|
|April 2010||Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Tallinn|
|March 2010||Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen|
|August 2009||Speaker of the Parliament Gerdi Verbeet|
|October 2008||Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen at the meeting of Baltic and Belenlux States foreign ministers|
|May 2008||Queen Beatrix state visit|
|May 2006||President of the House of Representatives Frans W. Weisglas|
|March 2005||Foreign Minister Bernard R. Bot|
|April 2004||Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende|
|November 2003||Minister for Foreign Trade Karien van Gennip|
|June 2002||His Royal Highness Prince of Orange Willem Alexander and Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima|
|April 2002||Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management Tineke Netelenbos|
|October 2001||Prime Minister Wim Kok|
The following agreements have been signed by the Republic of Estonia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands:
- Agreement on the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (came into force 01.09.93);
- Agreement on Flight Connections (came into force 01.02.94);
- Agreement on Maritime Transport (came into force 01.02.94);
- Agreement between the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Field of Road Transport (came into force 01.12.94);
- Agreement on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Proper Application of Customs Law and for the Prevention, Investigation and Combating of Customs Offences (came into force 01.06.96);
- Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and Capital (came into force 08.11.98);
- Agreement on the Abolition of Mutual Visa Requirements (the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are also contracting parties of the agreement, came into force 01.07.99);
- Memorandum on the employment of the dependants of the employee appointed to another country for fulfilling official duties (came into force 19.11.02);
- Memorandum on mutual understanding regarding co-operation in the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases in accordance with Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol (came into force 09.09.03);
- Agreement on the privileges and immunities of the liaison officer of the Europol (came into force 01.10.03);
- Agreement on the export and payment of social insurance benefits (came into force 01.06.04).
Estonia’s relations with the Netherlands are good and close. Within the past few years the Netherlands has been visited by the Estonian president, prime minister, foreign minister, and other higher officials, and high-level visits from the Netherlands to Estonia have also taken place. Queen Beatrix had a state visit to Estonia in 2008. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen’s visit to Estonia took place in March 2010, and in April he also participated in the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn. The foreign ministers also meet regularly in the format of the Baltic and Benelux foreign ministers; the last such meeting took place in September in Pädaste, Estonia.
The Netherlands is among Estonia’s top ten trade partners, positioned in 8th place after the first nine months of 2012. Trade turnover was 658 million euros, which is 3.4% of Estonia’s total foreign trade. Import made up 401.5 million of the total (placing the Netherlands in 8th place among Estonia’s import partners) and export 256.4 million (9th among Estonia’s export partners). The primary articles of export according to the nine-month data from 2012 were mineral products (47%), metals and metal products (10.7%), and machinery and equipment (7.4%); primary import articles were machinery and equipment (33.8%), chemical products (19.2%), and plant products (8.2%).
In 2011, trade turnover with the Netherlands totalled 789.4 million EUR, which was 3.1% of Estonia’s total trade turnover and made the Netherlands Estonia’s 9th trade partner. With 324.2 million EUR (2.7%), the Netherlands ranked as Estonia’s 10th export market in 2011. Among Estonia’s import partners, the Netherlands was in 9th place with 465.2 million EUR (3.7% of total imports). In 2011 Estonia exported goods to the Netherlands totalling 333 million euros in value, which is 100 million euros or 64% more than in 2010. Imports totalled 450 million euros in value.
Estonian-Dutch trade 2005-2012 (in millions EUR):
|Year||Export||% of total export||Import||% of total import|
|2012 (9 months)||256.4||2.8||402.1||3.9|
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
Major export articles in 2011:
- Mineral products - 48.9%
- Metals and metal products – 9%
- Machinery and equipment – 7.2%
Major import articles in 2011:
- Chemical products – 22.2%
- Machinery and equipment - 18.4%
Plant products - 9.4%
According to Bank of Estonia data, direct investments in Estonia from companies in the Netherlands totalled 1.5 billion euros as of 30 September 2012, which equals 10.6% of all direct investments made in Estonia. Among other nations making direct investments in Estonia, the Netherlands ranked in 3rd place after Sweden and Finland. Holland’s cash flows have gone to Estonia’s transport and inventory sector (27% of investments), real estate (17%), and professional, research and technical activities (13%).
According to the Estonian Business Register, as of 29 February 2012 there were 258 businesses with Dutch participation registered in Estonia. The companies in Estonia with the most Dutch participation were Maxima Eesti OÜ, Alexela Logistics, AS Magnum, Fortum Termest, and Termak Real Estate. Another one of the biggest Dutch investments in Estonia is AS Vopak EOS, which provides independent tank terminal capacity.
As of 30 September 2012, Estonia has invested a total of 79.4 million euros in the Netherlands, which is 2% of all of Estonia’s direct investments abroad. Investments have primarily gone to professional, research, and technical activity; financial and insurance activity; wholesale and retail trade; electrical energy supply; transport and inventory; information and communication; and real estate.
The embassy can attest to the fact that Dutch citizens’ interest in travelling to Estonia has significantly increased over the past few years. Frequently people are interested in opportunities for family vacations—the Dutch do not just focus on Tallinn, but generally want to travel by car through all of Estonia. They ask about lodging possibilities outside of the capital, bike paths, and recently also small harbours. Caravan tourism is another sector that the Dutch are interested in.
Number of Dutch tourists to visit Estonia 2010-2012 (10 months)
2010 - 11 713
2011 - 17 698
2012, 10 months - 17 172
Source: Bank of Estonia
Defence-related co-operation between the Netherlands and Estonia has been fairly active. After Estonia’s accession to NATO, co-operation has declined somewhat. In the fall of 2005 Estonia assigned a defence attaché to the Netherlands – Lieutenant Colonel Lauri Einre was Estonia’s first defence attaché to the Netherlands (residing in London). From August 2007 to August 2010 the Estonian defence attaché in the Netherlands was Urmas Muld, who also resided in London. Starting in August 2003 the Dutch defence attaché to Estonia was Commander Bruno Gerrits, who resided in The Hague. The current defence attaché is lieutenant commander J.M.J. Rozenburg, who also covers Estonia from The Hague.
On 8 October 1997 a memorandum of mutual understanding was concluded between the defence ministries of Estonia and the Netherlands that addressed bilateral contacts and defence-related co-operation, within which areas of co-operation were defined. On the initiative of the Netherlands the aforementioned memorandum was updated and the reworked memorandum was signed on 1 October 2008.
Estonia is greatly appreciative of the training co-operation that has developed, within the framework of which many different courses, trainings and visits have taken place each year. Since 1996, the Dutch Ministry of Defence has offered policy training courses to Estonian officers and officials dealing with defence at the International Staff Officers Orientation Courses, and also at the Belgian-Dutch mine disarming school EGUERIM. The Netherlands have supported the Baltic Defence College both through financial aid and by sending a lecturer to the school.
The co-operation between the navies of Estonia and the Netherlands has been quite active. The “Admiral Pitka” participated in the NATO counter-mine squadron, during which there was close co-operation with the Dutch. For the duration of the mission, the Dutch navy outfitted the ship with its crypto- and communication technology, which was necessary to ensure the “Admiral Pitka’s” interoperability with NATO (the technology was given to the “Admiral Pitka” to use for five years). The Netherlands has also participated in the counter-mine operation “Open Spirit”.
The Netherlands offered the Baltic states air policing from the beginning of April 2005 until the end of June. Estonia has procured and continues to procure various powered technology from the Netherlands. For example, we have purchased utility vehicles, medical vehicles, and trailer cargo beds. Estonia is also purchasing 81 SISU XA 188 armoured vehicles from the Netherlands (the agreement was signed on 7 October 2010 in The Hague).
Dutch aid and development co-operation
The Netherlands, along with Finland, Sweden and Denmark, has been one of the four main nations to finance bilateral projects with Estonia. (The Netherlands ended the giving of traditional aid to Estonia when Estonia joined the EU). The co-operation between the two nations has included many joint projects in agriculture, law co-operation, harbour management, and environmental protection. Training sessions in a variety of different fields have also been carried out.
The most successful co-operation projects with the Netherlands were:
• The project to increase the administrative capabilities of the state audit office, within the framework of which one can examine the activities aimed at generally strengthening the organisation as well as those for developing and implementing a successful audit system;
• The 8-year consultation project for Estonian farms, during which 30 model Estonian farms were aided with raising dairy cattle, fodder, milk quality, bookkeeping and farm management and were able to get discounts on concentrated fodder and technology;
• Supporting the establishment of the 112 emergency help number in Estonia;
• Reconstructing the Luhamaa border crossing point and outfitting it with equipment.
The Netherlands is a nation with long-term experience in development co-operation, and Estonia can learn a lot from the Netherlands in this sector. The Netherlands contributes 0.8% of its GDP to development co-operation, making it one of the few nations fulfilling the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. Half of the Netherlands’ development aid finances go to Africa.
In February 2007, Dutch national architect Mels Crouwel visited Estonia upon the invitation of the Estonian Ministry of Culture and the architectural commission working at the ministry. He met with representatives of the Ministry of Culture, the architectural commission and the Estonian Association of Architects, introducing the Dutch experience with architectural policy. In 2007 a 29-member delegation of female Dutch architects also took a fact-finding trip to Estonia, for which the Estonian Embassy in the Netherlands helped with planning and co-ordination
Cultural exchange continued to make up a large proportion of our bilateral relations in 2011, and the following events deserve particular recognition: the Tallinn Sinfonietta directed by Andres Mustonen gave a successful performance in Amsterdam’s most prestigious concert hall Concertgebouw; one of the best chamber choirs in the Netherlands and in all of Europe presented the programme “The Baltic Sun”, which comprised the works of Baltic composers, including Veljo Tormis and Arvo Pärt; the world premiere of Eduard Tubin’s piece “Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra” took place in the Netherlands, performed by the Delfti orchestra.
The biggest cultural events of 2010 included the Dutch chamber choir Kwintessens performing concerts dedicated to the 75th birthday of Arvo Pärt, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir giving a concert in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw concert hall under the direction of Daniel Reuss of the Netherlands, and the grand choir festival organised in honour of the 80th birthday of composer Veljo Tormis. Within the framework of the aforementioned festival, nine Dutch hobby choirs performed in the Leiden Stadsgehoorzaal with an overview of Tormis’s works. A concert/lecture dedicated to Tormis that filled an entire afternoon also took place in Amsterdam’s Boomkerk; in addition to choirs performing the works of Tormis, Professor Cornelius Hasselblatt from the University of Groningen spoke about Estonian poetry and music expert Triin Ojamaa from the Estonian Literary Museum gave a lecture on Estonia’s Song Festival tradition.
In 2009 the most important events were connected with the celebration of the 91st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. A big jazz concert took place in the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague, where Villu Veski and the Tallinn Jazz Quartet performed and the concert was very well received by the public. At the beginning of February, organist Andres Uibo and his violinist daughter Mari-Liis Uibo gave a concert in the Amsterdam concert hall Orgelpark.
That same year, the embassy helped to organise an open-air concert by the Viljandi Music School in the centre of The Hague in front of the royal Escher in het Paleis Museum. The music school performed for approximately one and a half hours for the listeners in The Hague, who received the concert very well. After the concert, the embassy organised a reception in the embassy for the 80 music school students as well as local Estonian and Dutch friends. The idea for organising a concert in The Hague came from Dutch musician Bert Langeler, who lives in Estonia and works at the Viljandi Music School.
From 2005 to 2011 conductor Neeme Järvi had a four-year co-operation contract with the over 100-year-old Hague symphony orchestra Residentie Orkester.
On 11 September 2008 the embassy organised an Estonian afternoon in Groningen in the northern part of the Netherlands, in co-operation with the Finno-Ugric department of Groningen University. About 70 people participated—from university, cultural and business circles. The schedule for the afternoon included the Estonian Institute’s photo exhibit EV 90, the presentation of the Dutch translation of Jaan Kross’s novel “Treading Air”, and the screening of J. Tusty’s documentary film “The Singing Revolution”. The audience showed great interest and gave warm feedback.
On 13 November 2008 Estonian Honorary Consul in Rotterdam Jan Brouwer presented Onno Bus and John de Jonge’s book “Dutch-Estonian Relations between the Two World Wars 1918-1940”.
In 2009 Sofi Oksanen’s novel “Purge” was published in Dutch.
In March 2008 an Estonian language day was held in the Estonian Embassy in the Netherlands, which included a screening of H. Merits’s film “Dear Paul” (“Kallis Paul”). In 2007 relations were established with the Filmhuis in The Hague so that Estonian films could be shown in the Netherlands.
In 2011 a display of the works of photographer Ruth Huimerind was opened in the embassy on Estonian Independence Day.
In 2010 an exhibit of Estonian Song Festival photographs was displayed as part of the choir festival held in honour of Veljo Tormis’s 80th birthday in Leiden.
During the same year there was an exhibit of Estonian photographs displayed in Amstelveen, the Netherlands within the framework of the IV International Photography Biennial GRID 2010. It was the most extensive exhibit introducing the works of Estonian photographers to ever be displayed in the Netherlands. The works on display are by four distinctive and fascinating Estonian photographers – Ruth Huimerind, Peeter Laurits, and Tiit and Ivar Veermäe. Over 20 nations from all over the world participated in the Photography Biennial GRID 2010.
In March 2011 a Baltic Day took place at Maastricht University, within the framework of which a ceremony to honour the winners of a Baltic-wide writing contest organised by the university was held. In June the 5th International Symposium on Finno-Ugric Languages took place in Groningen.
In 2008 the planned reciprocal visits between the graduating classes of Saaremaa High School and Limburg’s Groenwald School took place (the Dutch students visited Saaremaa in 2008; the project began in the fall of 2006).
In December 2008 the Gasunie student exchange in Groningen organised a series of events introducing the countries along the Baltic Sea. On 4 December a day on Estonia was organised in co-operation with the embassy, within the framework of which the film “The Singing Revolution” was shown and Prof. Cornelius Hasselblatt from the university’s Finno-Ugric department spoke about the Estonian language and culture. In the foyer of the Gasunie was an exhibit of Urmo Raus’s paintings.
In 2007 an Estonian School was registered in the Netherlands with the financial support of the Estonian Foreign Ministry. There are 39 children that participate in the instruction that takes place one Sunday a month. In addition, Estonian language classes take place for others who are interested in learning. On an academic level, it is possible to study Estonian at Groningen University.