Political relations between Switzerland and Estonia are excellent. This is partly due to the assistance 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 was a recipient country of Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged EU.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Estonia maintain regular bilateral contacts at the highest level. The most recent high-level meeting took place in April 2017, when the President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard, met Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and other members of the government in Tallinn. In the last decade, one of the priorities of bilateral relations has been close cooperation within the framework of Switzerland's enlargement contribution. Cultural relations are also significant: there are, for example, 'Swiss reading rooms' in Tallinn and in the university city of Tartu.
Since Estonia joined the EU in 2004, bilateral trade has been based on the corresponding free trade agreement. Economic relations between the two countries are on an upward trend. The volume of trade amounted to approximately CHF 21621 million in 20196. Swiss investments in Estonia have risen steadily over the past ten years. In Estonia, Swiss companies invest mainly in industry, retail, tourism, transport, financial services and real estate.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Switzerland and Estonia are working together on more than 20 projects under Horizon 2020.
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 the enlarged EU
Estonia was one of the beneficiary countries of the Swiss contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in the enlarged EU. By 2017, 18 projects worth a total of CHF 40 million were implemented in order to reduce economic and social disparities. Investments targeted, among other areas, the energy efficiency of public buildings and the use of renewable energy sources. Estonia is also a beneficiary of the second Swiss contribution.
Swiss nationals in Estonia
According to the Statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 761 Swiss nationals were living in Estonia at the end of 20196.
History of bilateral relations
Consular relations between the two countries date back to 1919. The Federal Council recognised Estonia’s independence in 1921. A trade agreement was concluded in 1925, further strengthening bilateral relations. Bilateral relations were interrupted after the Soviet Union annexed Estonia in 1940, and were re-established in 1991 after the country regained its independence. Switzerland never recognised the annexation 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 (Latvia) is responsible for representing Switzerland's interests in Estonia. The Estonian embassy in Vienna covers Switzerland.