100 years since Estonia established diplomatic relations with five states

Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Tallinn.
Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Tallinn. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On Tuesday, Estonia marked the establishment of diplomatic relations with five countries which took place 100 years ago today.

Bilateral relations with Belgium, France, Italy and Japan are all 100 years old as of January 26, in addition to those with the U.K., which is being marked with a special webinar organized by the embassies of both countries.

Spokespersons for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that the five countries de jure recognized the Republic of Estonia as an independence state on January 26 1921, following the conclusion of the 1918-1920 War of Independence. Estonia declared its independence on February 24 1918.

Formal relations with Japan were also declared on the same date 100 years ago.

Daily Postimees reported the day after, January 27 1921, that: "Final recognition -which is, after all, what recognizing [independence] 'de jure', or 'by law', means - by the major powers of the west completely opens up the path for the Estonian people into the esteemed family of nationally independent nations. Any doubts and disbelief about whether the Estonian nation, regardless of her thirst for freedom and brave struggle for independence, could preserve her independence, have been removed once and for all, with the final recognition among the great western nations."

The five nations had all been allies during the 1914-1918 world war.

The de jure recognition from major powers brought increased political and territorial security and opened the door to subsequent acts of recognition, as well as providing an opportunity to launch friendly relations and boost economic prosperity via trade, BNS reports.

While the First Estonian Republic lost its independence following the Soviet Occupation beginning in 1940, most of the five states did not recognize de jure the occupation at any time.

Bilateral relations between Estonia and the countries mentioned remain in place today, with Estonia having embassies in all five countries, and four of them having full embassies in Tallinn (Belgium has a consulate).

Foreign ministry Undersecretary for Political Affairs Rein Tammsaar met Japanese Ambassador to Estonia Hajime Kitaoka Tuesday, to mark the event.

Tammsaar said: "It is a joy to note that relations between Japan and Estonia, which have been traditionally good, have become even closer in recent years,"

"We aim to boost the economic relations of Estonia and Japan, and support Estonian companies in the export of products and services with great potential. High-level meetings in recent years also attest to our excellent relations," he went on.

Japan is among Estonia's most important trading partners in Asia, the ministry says. Interest has also grown in Estonia's activities in developing an e-state and digital services, while cultural ties remain close.

Estonia's business diplomacy agenda for Japan for 2020-2025 highlights ICT and IT solutions in domains such as e-governance, smart cities, education, healthcare and cybersecurity. The timber sector, food industry and Estonian design products also hold great potential on the Japanese market, the ministry says.

Britain's prime minister, Boris Johnson, also issued this video greeting marking the occasion.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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