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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Estonia

Political relations between Switzerland and Estonia are excellent. This is partly due to the help that Switzerland gave Estonia in the area of security and defence during its first years of independence. High-level bilateral visits have also strengthened the relationship. Estonia is a recipient country of the Swiss enlargement contribution.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Switzerland and Estonia maintain regular bilateral contacts. In October 2010, Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey visited Tallinn, and in December 2011 Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited Switzerland. In September 2013, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet paid a visit to Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter in Bern. President Burkhalter reciprocated this with a visit to Tallinn on 25 August 2014.

Economic cooperation

Economic relations are on an upward trend. The volume of trade amounted to approximately CHF 182 million in 2013. Since Estonia joined the EU in 2004, bilateral trade has been based on the corresponding free trade agreement. Swiss investment there has risen constantly over the past ten years. Around 90 Swiss firms have invested in Estonia.

Cooperation in the field of education

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

Switzerland’s contribution to EU enlargement

As an EU member state, Estonia is one of the beneficiary countries of the Swiss contribution to reducing the economic and social disparities in an enlarged EU. Between 2012 and 2017, 18 projects worth a total of CHF 40 million will be implemented in order to reduce economic and social disparities.

Swiss nationals in Estonia

At the end of 2013, there were 49 Swiss nationals living in Estonia.

History of bilateral relations

Consular relations have existed between the two countries since 1919. The Federal Council recognised Estonia's independence in 1921. A trade agreement was concluded in 1925. Bilateral relations were re-established in 1991, having been interrupted in 1940 by the annexing of Estonia by the Soviet Union. Switzerland never recognised the annexing of Estonia by the Soviet Union.

In the 1990s, Switzerland provided Estonia with some CHF 22 million, focused mainly on environmental protection projects, within the framework of cooperation with Eastern Europe. 

The Swiss embassy in Riga also covers Estonia, while the Estonian embassy in Brussels covers Switzerland.