Italy and Estonia have a strong relationship in defense and security, digital issues, business, culture and more, foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) said.
Liimets was on a visit to Rome just days after Italy clinched the European Championships football crown after a penalty shoot-out against England, though primarily to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Italy, also taking in a visit to the Vatican for the same reason.
A former diplomat herself, Liimets said: "Relations between Estonia and Italy are close in many areas, ranging from security and defense cooperation to cultural cooperation and economic relations, and there is also interest in digital and cyber cooperation.
"We are grateful to Italy for their contribution in the Baltic Air Policing mission at Ämari. Italian fighters are currently patrolling Estonia's skies, while Estonia is participating in the Frontex Themis joint operation in Italy, as part of migration and police cooperation efforts," she went on, according to a ministry press release.
Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters arrived at Ämari at the beginning of May.
Frontex, or the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is an EU agency headquartered in Warsaw, Poland, tasked with border control of the Schengen Area and in coordination with the border and coast guards of zone's member states.
"We had been planning and looking forward to this visit for a long time, and this year we are celebrating the centenary of diplomatic relations between the two countries," she added.
The foreign minister also opened a new Estonian Embassy building in Rome (see cover image), and met her Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio, along with the President of the Italian Senate, Maria Elisabetta Casellati.
The talks covered bilateral relations, current EU and NATO affairs, transatlantic relations, developments concerning Russia and Belarus, as well as migration issues.
"I affirmed Estonia considered security indivisible and we think it is crucial for allies to count on each other's support," the minister said. "I touched on the concerning developments on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, which also need the attention of the EU as a whole."
The two-day visit, which ended Wednesday, also yielded a meeting with the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States Paul Richard Gallagher, during which the pair noted the centennial of Estonia's diplomatic relations with the Holy See, established during the pontificate of Benedict XV.
"This October, Estonia and the Vatican are celebrating the centenary of diplomatic relations. I am glad to note that Secretary Gallagher was well versed in life in Estonia. We exchanged views on current affairs, and I affirmed Estonia's ambition to actively contribute to global peace and security as an elected member of the UN Security Council," she said.
While the Vatican was under Italian rule following the Risorgimento, a situation still the case 100 years ago, it was treated as a distinct entity so far as diplomatic relations were concerned – including in establishing relations with Estonia 100 years ago, a the year after Estonia had become fully independent. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 established the present-day Vatican City State.
During her trip, Liimets also met Albrecht von Boeselager, the Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta, and explored options for both parties in the field of humanitarian aid and development cooperation, with a focus on digital cooperation in particular.
Estonia and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a lay religious order, established diplomatic relations with each other just last year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte