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Estonia and Turkey


Turkey recognised the Republic of Estonia on 23 January 1924. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored on 23 October 1991. Turkey never recognised the Soviet occupation of Estonia.

After the restoration of Estonia's independence, Turkey accredited its first Ambassador to Estonia, residing in Vilnius, in 1992. In October 2001, Turkey opened its Embassy in Tallinn. In the period 2001 - 2005 Turkey's Ambassador to Estonia was Ömer Altuğ - the first Turkish ambassador to reside in Estonia. The present Turkey's Ambassador to Estonia Fatma Şule Soysal presented his credentials to President Arnold Rüütel in December 2005.

Sven Jürgenson became Estonia's first Ambassador to Turkey in June 1996, residing in Tallinn. Andres Tomasberg residing in Madrid, in January 1999, followed him. In February 2001, the Estonian Embassy in Ankara was opened, headed by Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Heikki Koort (until August 2003) and Linda Kolk (until July 2004). The first Estonian Ambassador residing in Ankara Märt Volmer presented his credentials to Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in July 2004.

Estonia has three Honorary Consulates in Turkey. The first was opened in August 2001 in Istanbul (the jurisdiction includes the Marmara region), where Tuncay Özilhan is in office. The second was opened in October 2002 in the seaside resort Antalya, where the Honorary Consul is Ethem Okudur and in August 2003, the third Honorary Consulate was opened in Izmir, where the Honorary Consul is Esfer Baltali.

An Estonia-Turkey parliamentary group was formed in the X Riigikogu in June 2003, the chairman is Eldar Efendijev.

Visits and meetings of importance

To Turkey
December 1993 President Lennart Meri's state visit
June 1994 Foreign Minister Jüri Luik participated in the meeting of foreign ministers of NATO and NACC in Istanbul
October 1995 Foreign Minister Riivo Sinijärv
January 1997 Chairman of the Riigikogu Toomas Savi
October 1998 President Lennart Meri
November 1999 Prime Minister Mart Laar and Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves participated in the OSCE summit meeting in Istanbul
October 2001 Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves
August 2003 Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland
April 2004 Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland
February-March 2005 Riigikogu's Estonia-Turkey parliamentary group
September 2005 President Arnold Rüütel
April 2006 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet

To Estonia
July 1994 Foreign Minister Hikmet Çetin
June 1997< President Süleyman Demirel's state visit
June 2000 Foreign Minister Ismail Cem
April 2002 President Ahmet Nezdet Sezer
August 2002 Defence Minister Sabahattin Çakmakoğlu
June 2004 Estonia-Turkish EU consultations
September 2004 Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gül
March 2006 Visit of the Turkish-Estonian friendship group of the Turkish National Assembly
May 2006 Deputy Speaker of the Turkey's National Assembly Ismail Alptekin at the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments


In 1924, an Estonian-Turkish Treaty of Friendship was signed. Six more agreements were signed from 1929-1938 between Turkey and Estonia.

To date, the two countries have entered into several agreements, which have helped establish successful bilateral co-operation between Estonia and Turkey. Currently there are fourteen agreements in force between Estonia and Turkey. The following lists the agreements that have entered into force between Estonia and Turkey:

  1. Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation (came into force 26.04.95);
  2. Agreement on Trade and Economic Co-operation (came into force 15.02.96);
  3. International Road Transport Agreement (came into force 15.02.96);
  4. Agreement on Co-operation in the Field of Tourism (came into force 15.02.96);
  5. Agreement Concerning the Mutual Abolition of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic Passports (came into force 14.02.97);
  6. Agreement regarding Mutual Assistance between Customs Administrations (came into force 06.12.1998);
  7. Agreement Concerning the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 29.04.99);
  8. Agreement on Co-operation in Culture, Education, Science and Sports (came into force 22.09.99);
  9. Agreement on Co-operation in the Fight Against International Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, International Terrorism and Organised Crime (came into force 27.09.00);
  10. Agreement on Defence (came into force 31.10.02);
  11. Agreement for the Protection of Classified Information (came into force 27.01.03);
  12. Agreement on Air Transport (came into force 27.09.04);
  13. Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (came into force 21.02.2005)
  14. Co-operation program in the field of culture, education, research, youth and sports (came into force 28.11.2005).

Mutual co-operation

The relations between Estonia and Turkey are good and are developing stably. Continuous progress in political, defence, economic and cultural co-operation is essential to Estonia. Mutual understanding between Estonia and Turkey is enhanced by a geo-strategic similarity, similar positions on most international issues and constructive co-operation in international organisations.

Turkey, as a member of NATO, repeatedly confirmed at the highest levels its support for Estonia in joining NATO. During their visits, the Turkish President, Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Foreign Minister voiced Turkish support for Estonia's accession to NATO. The Turkish Parliament ratified the Protocol of Accession of Estonia to NATO on 5 November 2003.

The Foreign Ministries of Estonia and Turkey signed the Protocol on the Establishment of the Political Consultation Mechanism in June 1997. Proceeding from this protocol, meetings between the parties shall take place at least once a year. To date, six meetings have taken place, most recently in Tallinn in June 2004 focusing on EU issues.

On the initiative of the Turkish side, consular consultations aimed at achieving a visa facilitation agreement with Estonia were conducted in February 2005. On 20 October 2005, security policy consultations took place in Ankara.

Defence co-operation

Defence-related contacts between the two countries were closer at the initial stage of relations from 1995-1997. In 1995, Estonia's Minister of Defence Andrus Öövel visited Turkey. Estonia's Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited Turkey in October 2001, during the course of which, he also met with Turkish Defence Minister, Sabahattin Cakmakoğlu In August 2002, upon invitation by Estonia's Minister of Defence Sven Mikser, the Turkish Defence Minister Sabhattin Çakmakoğlu visited Estonia. During the course of the visit a Framework Co-operation Agreement was signed concerning defence matters.

The purpose for the Co-operation Agreement concerning Defence Matters is, on the basis of reciprocity to promote military training, technological and scientific co-operation of the parties and to support, facilitate and develop co-operation in the fields of defence and security policy as well as military training and education. It also focuses on environmental protection and various other fields.

Estonia has no bilateral defence related co-operation projects with Turkey. However, Estonian officers have in recent years participated in courses at the Turkish PfP Centre. At the beginning of 2003 representative of the Ministry of Defence attended the PfP course "NATO Tactical CIMIC Course" in Turkey and highly rated the quality of the course.

Turkey has accredited Lieutenant Colonel Nuri Cankiymaz as its military attaché to Estonia, residing in Helsinki (as of April 2005).

On 1 April, air policing over the Baltic States was taken over by four Turkish fighters, whose mission is going to last for a month longer than earlier three month missions. Turkey is the first NATO Member from the South-East European and Mediterranean region to start defending the Baltic air space. In the replacement ceremony in the Zokniai Air Base, Lithuania the Chief of Estonian Air Force Staff Colonel Valeri Saar participated. As from March, a non-commissioned officer of the Estonian Air Force directly takes part in the work of the air policing operations centre.

Economic relations


The Estonian-Turkish trade volume has grown significantly in recent years. Nevertheless, Turkey's share among Estonia's trade partners has remained modest.

In 2005, Turkey ranked as Estonia's 26th largest trade partner: the 18th largest export partner with 0.9% of Estonia's total exports and Estonia's 29th largest import partner with 0.4% of the total imports. In 2005, the trade turnover with Turkey amounted to 86.7 million EUR, of which exports accounted for 58% or 50.5 million and imports for 36.2 million EUR. Against 2004, an almost equal increase was noted in exports and imports, respectively by 70% and by 78%. Trade balance was positive by 14.3 million EUR.

Source: Estonian Statistical Office

Main export articles in 2005:

  • Metals and metal products - 57%
  • Fur and fur products - 29%
  • Chemicals, chemical products - 7%

Main import articles in 2005:

  • Metals and metal products - 32%
  • Machinery and equipment - 22%
  • Textiles and textile products - 21%
  • Pearls, precious stones and jewellery - 9%

The Free Trade Agreement between Estonia and Turkey was in force since 1998, which guaranteed trade without restrictions regarding industrial goods and gave relatively favourable conditions for the export of many foodstuffs originating in Estonia (for instance chocolate products and canned fish). Regular Estonian-Turkish Joint Commission meetings took place in the framework of the Free Trade Agreement.

After accession to the European Union, Estonia has terminated all free trade agreements with third party states. Thus, Estonia has terminated its free trade agreement with Turkey along with other economic agreements. The termination of the Free Trade Agreement with Turkey has primarily affected the trade of agricultural products between Estonia and Turkey, since the European Union and Turkey do not have an open market agreement on the import and export of agricultural products. It is a gradual process and negotiations on this issue will continue in the future.

A co-operation agreement was signed by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce in 1993. In March 2001, the Estonian-Turkish Chamber of Economy (ETMK) was established in Tallinn. On its initiative, an information day introducing the Turkish market took place in Tallinn in June 2001. In February 2002, the ETMK was reorganized into a broad-based Estonian-Turkish Chamber of Business, the chairman of which is Raivo Vare.

During the state visit of the President of Turkey in April 2002, the Estonian-Turkish Chamber of Business held a business seminar for the accompanying Turkish business delegation.


Turkish investments in Estonia as well as Estonian investments in Turkey have so far been small. According to the Bank of Estonia, as of 31.12.2005, Estonia has made direct investments in Turkey for 252 thousand EUR and Turkey in Estonia for -673 thousand EUR, which means that for the direct investor the position of claims surpasses his investment position in Estonian affiliate or related undertaking or that the latter is in the red with its economic activities.


At the period preceding the accession to the European Union the number of Turkish tourists visiting Estonia grew from year to year, at the same time their number was relatively small. Interest towards Estonia has grown after EU membership. As to the number of tourists staying overnight, Turkey is still among European countries with a smaller share: in 2004, in Estonian accommodation enterprises 461 Turkish tourists stayed overnight, in 2005 their number was 473. The majority of Turkish tourists stay in Tallinn.

For Estonians Turkey as a travel destination is significantly more popular. Within 9 months of 2005, travel bureaus sent 15 590 people to Turkey, consequently almost twice surpassing the year before. Travel to Turkey has kept constantly growing in last years. On the average a trip to Turkey lasts for 9 days.

Culture and education

A Culture, Education, Science and Sports Agreement was signed in 1994 and came into force in September 1999. The agreement is the foundation for actual co-operation between the two countries in these fields.

Primarily, the writers/translators Ly Seppel, Andres Ehin and Ain Kaalep have fostered the publishing of Turkish literature in Estonia. The publication of Turkey's most famous contemporary prose writer Yaşar Kemal's "To Kill the Snake" and the Turkish 20th century collection of poetry "The Night of the Stag" received a contribution from the Turkish Embassy. In 1999, the periodical "Akadeemia" dedicated a special issue to Turkey.

Turkish has been taught at the University of Tartu since 1993. In 1998, on the initiative of the Turkish Ambassador Erkan Gezer, a Turkish-language section was opened at the University of Tartu, financed by the Embassy. An agreement is being prepared between the University of Tartu and Bilkent University in which an emphasis will be put on the exchange of students, scientists and lecturers.
In 2000, President Lennart Meri recognized the work of the rector of Bilkent University, Professor Ihsan Doğramacı, awarding him the Cross of Terra Mariana.

Turkish has been offered at the Tallinn Pedagogical University (TPU) since 1993. The Turkish Embassy in Vilnius provided the required study material. In 1997, President Süleyman Demirel inaugurated the TPU's Turkish-language section, whose costs are covered by the Turkish Embassy. The same year the TPU's Oriental Centre was opened, where Turkish and related languages are taught. Visitors to the centre can also familiarise themselves with Turkish culture and history. The year 2000 saw the start of an Oriental bachelor with Turkish as the main subject. The Turkish Culture Society is also based at TPU, founded in 1995 by Ly Seppel, Andres Ehin et al.

In June 2004, the round table "Estonian-Turkish Academic and Cultural Relations in an Enlarging Europe" took place at the TPU. In the framework of the round table, a Turkish art exhibition was opened and a traditional Turkish music concert took place in Kadriorg Palace.

In May 2004, a basis was laid for the Estonian-Turkish Friendship Society, which is comprised of Turkish academics and others interested in culture. At the end of 2004 in order to facilitate the arrangement of events and reciprocal visits, a proposal was made to convert the Friendship Society into a society uniting the three Baltic countries. The name of the association is now TELLFA, the chairman is Galip Ilter, who at the same time is chairman of the Estonian partnership society of the Foreign Trade Association of Turkey.

At the end of 2004, a CNN TÜRK press visit took place with the support of the Press Department of the Estonian Foreign Ministry. The resulting broadcast received positive feedback in Turkey and aroused interest towards Estonia.

On 10 January 2005, Ara Güler's photo exposition was opened in the main exhibition hall of the National Library.

From 2 - 8 May 2005, at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu the festival of visual culture "World Film" took place, where film director of the Turkish origin Asen Balicki was represented.

In May 2005 an international dancing festival took place in Antalya and Ankara, in which the dance ensemble "Sõleke" participated.

The Fourth International Choir Festival took place in May 2005 in Ankara with the participation of two choirs from Estonia: Ellerhein Girls Choir and the Old Town Mixed Choir. Ellerhein placed first in the category of women's and men's choirs, and second place in the folklore category. The Estonian Embassy in Ankara assisted the choirs with logistical help.

On 27 June 2005, at the meeting held in Tallinn of the Council of Europe Eurimages Support Fund for the co-production of cinematographic works also Turkish cinematographers Dr. Ahmet Atilla Boyacioglu and Dr. Esin Boyacioglu participated.

The young jazz singers competition took place in June 2005 in the framework of the Nõmme Jazz festival. Turkish girl, Evrim Özcusa placed first and was very satisfied with her first foreign tour.

In July 2005, the Bursa Dance Festival took place in Turkey; the Estonian folk dance ensemble "Sõprus" participated. The honorary consuls in Istanbul and Izmir helped cover the expenses of Estonian participants. Journalists Sulev and Kadri Valner were present.

From 30 September to 1 October 2005, with the help of the Estonian Foreign Ministry the performance of Sandra Sillamaa, a bagpiper, at the Cultural Festival in Kars was arranged. Two performances that took place were a big success; Estonian bagpipe music was much enjoyed by the Turks. Kars in Turkey is as a result of the influences from the Caucasus more multicultural than the other regions of Turkey, where also the Estonian village was situated, founded 130 years ago, but to date practically perished.

On 27 October 2005, in Tallinn in the framework of "Diplomatic Notes" the ensemble Istanbul Sazelender composed of Turkish classical and Turkish folk instruments gave the concert "Wind upon the desert".

From 24.04 to 17.05.2006 in Tallinn, Turkish cultural days took place on the initiative of the Turkish Embassy and Turkey-Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania Friendship Association. In the framework thereof, a gala dinner along with Ayla Eryüksel's fashion show “3H” "Woman's Jorney from the Hittites to Present" was arranged, in addition in the National Library an exhibition was unveiled: "Living together: Memories of co-existence in the Ottoman and Turkish period". At the Estonia Concert Hall sisters Ferhan ja Ferzan Önder performed a piano duo "1001 nights", at the National Opera "Estonia" a concert of Sufi music and whirling dervishes took place. Also Anikya Iznik's art of tiles and Hikmet Barutucugil's "Ebru" art (figurative marbled images on paper) were presented. From 19 to 20.05.2006, a debate on the topic of the integration of Turkish society into Europe was arranged by the Centre of Oriental Studies of the Estonian Institute of Humanities of Tallinn University. Reports were made by Turkish intellectuals as well as by the teachers of the EIH.


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