June 8 marked 100 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Finland, an occasion celebrated jointly in Tallinn and Helsinki on Monday. Linked via video chat, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto symbolically signed a historical document of recognition of diplomatic relations in Tallinn and Helsinki, respectively.
"Finland was the first country to recognize the Republic of Estonia in 1920 after Estonia had signed the Tartu Peace Treaty with Soviet Russia," Reinsalu said according to a ministry press release. "We have seen many dramatic times during these past hundred years. The most poignant demonstration of mutual support is the volunteers from Finland fighting for Estonia's independence in the War of Independence, and the contribution of Estonian volunteers to the freedom of Finland. The bravery of Finns and Finnish Boys will be remembered through the ages."
The Estonian minister highlighted the fact that relations between Estonia and Finland have been close through the ages.
"More recently, the difficult circumstances in the world have only made the cooperation between our countries more efficient — friendship and an instinctive loyalty have always been palpable between Estonia and Finland," he highlighted.
"During the crisis, we created a Finnish-Estonian working group that exchanges information and works very well," Haavisto said, likewise affirming positive cooperation between the two countries. "We are constantly in touch with Reinsalu — nearly every day, one of us sends a message asking if a phone call is convenient. So our relations are excellent indeed."
Haavisto recalled being 10 years old the first time he visited Estonia, in the 1960s. "I remember being warmly welcomed after I left the port, and this has always been the case whenever I have visited Estonia," he said. "And likewise, the welcome is always warm and heartfelt on both sides."
Ambassadors, diplomats remembered
Following the twin receptions at the Finnish Embassy in Tallinn and the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki, diplomats placed flowers on the graves of former key ambassadors and diplomats at the Forest Cemetery in Tallinn and Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki.
In Tallinn, flowers were placed on the graves of Aleksander Warma, the last Estonian ambassador to Helsinki prior to the Soviet occupation (1939-1940), a subsequent member of the Estonian government in exile and the Estonian prime minister acting as president, Lennart Meri, Estonia's first ambassador to Helsinki following the restoration of Estonian independence (1992), and Priit Kolbre, Estonian ambassador to Helsinki (2005-2006).
In Helsinki, flowers were placed on the graves of Oskar Kallas, Estonia's first ambassador to Finland (1918-1922), Eduard Schwalbe, Estonia's first consul in Helsinki (1918-1920), Rudolf Holsti, Finnish minister of foreign affairs, signee of the letter of recognition of Estonian-Finnish diplomatic relations and Finnish ambassador to Estonia (1923-1927), Alfred Oswald Kairamo, the first diplomatic representative of Finland in Estonia, and Erkki Reijonen, the first ambassador of Finland to Tallinn.
Editor: Aili Vahtla