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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Estonia

Political relations between Estonia and Switzerland are excellent. In part this is due to the assistance Switzerland provided to Estonia in its first years of independence, in the areas of security and defence. The relationship has been further strengthened by high-level bilateral visits. Estonia benefits from Switzerland’s contribution to enlargement of the EU.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Switzerland and Estonia regularly hold bilateral visits. In October 2010 former Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey visited Tallinn and in December 2011 the President of Estonia came to Switzerland.

Economic cooperation

Economic relations between the two countries have developed in a promising manner. In 2011 commercial exchanges were worth some CHF 180 million.

Cooperation in the domain of education

Scholars and artists from Estonia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

Through the “Swiss Baltic Net”, the Gebert Rüf Foundation promoted university education as well as scientific exchanges between Switzerland and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Swiss contribution to the enlargement of the EU

As a member of the European Union (EU), Estonia is among the states that benefit from the Swiss contribution to the reduction of economic and social inequalities in the enlarged EU. Between 2012 and 2017 a total of CHF 40m are to be invested in 18 projects.

Swiss nationals in Estonia

At the end of 2012 there were 46 Swiss citizens living in Estonia.

History of bilateral relations

Relations at the consular level between the two countries have existed since 1919. In 1921, the Swiss government recognised Estonia’s independence. In 1925, a trade agreement was concluded. Bilateral relations, which had been interrupted in 1940 when the Soviet Union annexed Estonia, resumed in 1991 when the country regained its independence. The Swiss Embassy in Riga (Latvia) also represents Switzerland in Estonia; the Estonian Embassy in Brussels represents Switzerland in Belgium.

Switzerland never recognised the USSR's annexation of Estonia. In the 1990s the Confederation provided aid worth some CHF 22m, notably in the environmental field, in the framework of cooperation with Eastern Europe.