Estonia and Spain
Although Estonia and Spain are located in different parts of Europe and at first glance appear very different, they actually share many common characteristics. Spain consistently supported Estonia’s endeavours to join the EU and NATO. Economic reforms have been quite similar in both countries, insofar as both states have strived to diminish state interference in the economy while expanding the role of the private sector. The keywords are openness, liberalisation and reduction of the tax burden; the preferred areas of development are IT and new technologies.
The Kingdom of Spain recognised the Republic of Estonia on 25 March 1921. Estonia’s first Ambassador to Spain, Karl Robert Pusta, was appointed in 1928 and he resided permanently in Paris. Spain renewed its recognition of the Republic of Estonia on 27 August 1991 and diplomatic relations were restored on 10 September 1991.
Spain opened its embassy in Tallinn in March 2004. As of 29 June 2011 Spain’s ambassador to Estonia is Álvaro de la Riva Guzmán de Frutos.
Estonia opened its Embassy in Madrid in June 1997. Since September 2009, Estonia's Ambassador to Spain is Toomas Kahur.
Estonia has four honorary consuls in Spain: Josep Luis Rovira in the region of Catalonia (Barcelona), Fernando Franco Fernįndez in the region of Andalusia (Seville), Sergio Tadeo Benitez in Canary Islands and José Vicente Morata Estragués in Valencia. In 2013 Estonia hopes to open an honorary consulate in Galicia.
|December 2009||Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on a working visit|
|February 2009||Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on an official visit|
|July 2007||President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a state visit, with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Cultural Minister Laine Jänes in the delegation|
|October 2006||Minister of Agriculture Ester Tuiksoo|
|February 2004||Prime Minister Juhan Parts participated in a summit of the Right Wing and Christian Democrat Parties Alliance leaders, within the framework of which he met with Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|November 1998||President Lennart Meri opened the Estonian Embassy in Madrid and met with Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|June 2011||State Secretary for EU Affairs Diego López Garrido|
|May 2009||King od Spain Juan Carlos I on a state visit, with Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in the delegation|
|September 2006||Minister for Defence José Antonio Alonso Suįrez|
|July 2006||State Secretary for the European Union Affairs Alberto Navarro Gonzàlez|
|May 2006||Speaker of the Upper Chamber of the Spanish Parliament Javier Rojo|
|May 2006||Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos|
|September 2003||State Secretary for EU Affairs Ramón de Miguel Egea|
|September 2001||Prime Minister José Maria Aznar|
|April 2001||Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Piqué i Camps|
The following agreements have been signed between Estonia and Spain:
- Agreement on International Road Transport (came into force 24.11.97);
- Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 01.07.98);
- Protocol for Co-operation between the ministries of defence (came into force 24.11.1999);
- Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements (came into force 30.01.00);
- Agreement on the Readmission of Individuals (came into force 07.02.00);
- Agreement on Extradition of Criminals (came into force 07.02.00);
- Agreement on the avoidance of Double Taxation (came into force 01.01.05);
- Agreement on the protection of classified information (came into force 26.01.2007);
- Agreement on co-operation in culture and education (came into force 07.11.2007);
- Agreement on visa representation between Estonia and Spain (came into force 29.04.2009);
- Joint declaration for strengthening co-operation between the foreign ministries (04.05.2009).
- Agreement to amend the agreement on the protection of classified information (came into force 14.01.2011);
In addition, a joint declaration for strengthening co-operation between the foreign ministries has been signed (04.05.2009).
Defence relations between Spain and Estonia are in the developing stages. Estonia’s Ministry of Defence is interested in developing co-operation and strengthening defence-related ties with Spain.
Spain participates in the work of the NATO Cyber Defence Centre in Estonia, and at the end of April 2007 Estonia, Spain, Germany and NATO concluded the ACT Agreement for Functional and Operational Co-operation. Two Spanish experts (one soldier and one civilian specialist) began working in the centre in August 2008.
From August-November 2006, Spain participated in the Baltic air surveillance rotation. They utilised four Mirage F-1M airplanes for the surveillance. Their mission team was made up of 83 members.
Spain has appointed a defence attaché to Estonia, who resides in Warsaw. No defence attaché has been appointed by Estonia at present.
Estonia-Spain trade 2006-2012 (thousands of euros):
|2006||115 591||46 901||68 690||-2 179|
|2007||128 818||48 818||80 000||-3 118|
|2008||139 233||58 466||80 766||-2 230|
|2009||111 374||41 565||69 783||-2 817|
|2010||130 628||64 129||66 498||-2 369|
|2011||240 653||162 513||78 140||84 373|
|2012||240 689||138 773||101 916||36 857|
*Import according to sending nation
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
In 2012 Spain was Estonia’s 19th trade partner with 0.9% of Estonia’s total foreign trade turnover. In 2011 Spain ranked in 18th place and in 2010 in 23rd place. The major articles of export were wood and wood products (30.1%), metals and metal products (22.3%), and mineral products (14.0%). The most frequent articles of import from Spain were textiles (31.5%), plastic and rubber products (10.8%), and metals and metal products (10.6%).
|Direct investments from Spain 2004-2011 (thousands of euros)|
Source: Bank of Estonia
In 2007 companies like Iberdrola and Marbella Club Hotel S.A. entered the Estonian market. Spanish direct investments in Estonia make up about 0.2% of all direct investments made in Estonia.
Estonian businesses invested 79 880 thousand euros in Spain in 2007, 77 219 thousand euros in 2008, 80 261 thousand euros in 2009, 54 685 thousand euros in 2010, and 57 435 thousand euros in 2011. As of 30.12.2012 Estonian investments totalled 60 279 thousand euros or 1,4% of all Estonian direct investments abroad.
Spain remains a popular destination for Estonian tourists. There has been an increase in the number of tourists thanks to Estonian Air’s direct flight to Barcelona, although the break in flights during the winter season puts the brakes on the achieved momentum. Spanish people have an increased interest in travelling to Estonia, regardless of the fact that the Spanish travel agencies and population are not very knowledgeable about Estonia and in general only Tallinn is known as a travel destination.
Interest in Spanish language and culture is constantly growing in Estonia. Since 1992, it has been possible to study Spanish language as an entire course of study at Tartu University, and in 2002 it became possible to study Spanish at Tallinn University. Spanish language instruction at both universities was made possible by extremely strong support from the Spanish Embassy. Tartu University has an agreement for exchange of instructors and students in higher courses with Granada University, and student exchange occurs with Oviedo University and Las Palmas University. Many Spanish language instructors have gained experiences in Spain thanks to grants given by Spain. Employees of various government offices have used this opportunity as well. Since 2003, it has been possible to take the DELE (Spanish as a foreign language) exam at Tallinn University.
After the opening of the Spanish Embassy in Tallinn (2004), many events introducing Spanish culture have taken place in Estonia. There have been numerous art exhibits, Spanish cinema has been shown in different theatres, Spanish dance has been introduced through dance performances, and many different kinds of concerts have been held. The Estonian Embassy in Madrid has actively introduced Estonian culture in Spain (below is a list of the most important events).
- In 2006, the VIII International Folk Singing Competition took place in Barcelona. The Tallinn University Chamber Choir won first place, and Tallinn’s Kaarli Church Concert Choir won second place.
- On 25 February 2008 there was a concert by the Estonian Police Brass Band and soloist Kaire Vilgats in the Petit Palau de la Musicas in Barcelona in honour of the 90th anniversary of Estonia.
- On 28 February 2008 the ETV Girls’ Choir performed in the city government of Madrid’s Conde Duque Cultural Centre.
- On 19 March 2008 the Boys’ Choir of the National Opera Estonia gave a concert in the framework of the Cuenca Religious Music Week.
- In October 2008, the Teet, Mari and Martin Järvi chamber trio gave concerts in Madrid and Seville.
- In March 2012 the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra gave a concert including the works of Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis.
- The exhibit Young Spanish Painters was displayed in the Estonia Concert Hall during the 2006-2007 season. The project was initiated by Estonia, in particular Maksim Surin, and was made possible by support from the Spanish Embassy.
- An exhibit of the works of internationally known 20th century Spanish artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) was displayed in KUMU art museum from 14 December 2007 to 9 March 2008. The display included 57 works plus 8 photos.
- From 17 June to 30 July 2008, an exhibit of the paintings of Estonian artist Sergei Inkatov was seen in the Torculu art gallery in Barcelona.
- From March to July in 2010 an exhibition of Ilon Wikland’s illustrations was on display in Santander and Madrid.
- In May 2007, a Spanish film week took place in Tallinn. The project was the result of co-operation between the Sõprus cinema and the Spanish Embassy. The event was also supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Film Foundation.
- In August 2007 an Iberian film week took place in both Tallinn and Tartu.
- In April 2008 the Estonian film “The Class” (“Klass”) was shown in Spain.
- In July 2008, V. Õunpuu’s film “Autumn Ball” (“Sügisball” ) participated in the Cinema Jove international film festival in Valencia and won the grand prize.
- In April 2010 Estonian documentary films were shown at Madrid’s Suite Film Festival.
- In May 2011 Jaan Toomik’s short film “Oleg” was screened within the framework of a modern art festival in Madrid.
A small but prominent selection Estonian literature has been published in Spanish:Jaan Kross (“The Emperor’s Madman”, “Professor Martens’s Return”), Viivi Luik (“The Seventh Spring of Peace”) and Tõnu Õnnepalu (“Borderland”). The first Spanish translation of Estonian poetry, Jüri Talvet’s “Estonia’s Elegy and Other Poems”, was published in the spring of 2003. Juri Lotman and his semiotic school have gained fame in Spanish academic circles. A number of Juri Lotman’s books and articles have been published in Spanish.
At the beginning of 2011 Jaan Kaplinski’s “The Same River” (“Seesama jõgi”) was published in Spanish. The author himself attended the unveiling of the book on 17 March 2011 in Madrid.
The following works by Spanish authors have been published in Estonian "Don Quijote" by Cervantes, "La estrella de Sevilla" by Lope de Vega, "La vida es sueńo” by Calderón de la Barca, "Del sentimiento trįgico de la vida en los hombres y en los pueblos" by Unamuno, a selection of poetry by Garcķa Lorca in the collection “Cinnamon Tower” and poetry by Vicente Alexandre in the collection “History of Heart”, "La colmena" by Camilo José Cela, also works by Pérez Galdós, Paroja, Azorin, J.R.Jimenez and others.
Jüri Talvet and Ain Kaalep have been given the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica).
On 23 April 2008, Estonian poet Triin Soomets took part in the traditional “Night of the Books” in Madrid.
On 21 May 2008, professor of world literature at Tartu University Jüri Talvet participated in the Barcelona International Poetry Festival with his seventh compilation of poems “Silmad peksavad une seinu” (“Eyes Beat the Walls of Sleep”).
In 2011 the Spanish-language translation of Sofi Oksanen’s “Purge” was published. In May of 2012 “Purge” premiered on stage and was presented to full houses in San Sebastian, Madrid, and other theatre festivals.