Estonia and Finland celebrate the 100th anniversary of their diplomatic relations

On 8 June, Estonia and Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary of their diplomatic relations by symbolically signing a document of recognition.

The Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, and his Finnish colleague, Pekka Haavisto, symbolically signed the historical document of recognition of the diplomatic relations between Estonia and Finland in Tallinn and Helsinki, respectively.

The flags of Finland and Estonia at the Finnish embassy in Tallinn. Photo by Marko Mumm.

Former ambassadors and key figures of the restoration of Estonia’s independence were also present at the ceremony.

“Finland was the first country to recognise the Republic of Estonia in 1920 after Estonia had signed the Tartu Peace Treaty with Soviet Russia,” Reinsalu said. “We have seen many dramatic times during these past hundred years. The most poignant demonstration of mutual support is the volunteers from Finland fighting for Estonia’s independence in the War of Independence and the contribution of Estonian volunteers to the freedom of Finland. The bravery of Finns and Finnish Boys will be remembered through the ages.”

Finnish volunteers arrive in Tallinn, Estonia in December 1918.

A warm welcome at the harbour of Tallinn

Reinsalu highlighted the fact that relations between Estonia and Finland have been close through the ages. “More recently, the difficult circumstances in the world have only made the cooperation between our countries more efficient – friendship and an instinctive loyalty have always been palpable between Estonia and Finland.”

Haavisto also affirmed that cooperation between the two countries has been good. “During the crisis, we created the Finnish-Estonian working group that exchanges information and works very well,” Haavisto said. “We are constantly in touch with Urmas Reinsalu – nearly every day, one of us sends a message asking if a phone call is convenient. So, our relations are excellent indeed.”

“I went to Estonia for the first time in the 1960s, when I was 10 years old,” Haavisto recalled. “I remember being warmly welcomed after I left the harbour, and this has always been the case whenever I have visited Estonia. And likewise, the welcome is always warm and heartfelt on both sides.”

 MS Vanemuine started serving the Tallinn-Helsinki ferry line on 7 July 1965, helping to restore strong connections between Estonia (then occupied by the Soviet Union) and Finland. Photo courtesy of the Estonian foreign ministry.

Flower-laying ceremonies at Tallinn and Helsinki cemeteries

After the events at embassies, diplomats placed flowers at the Metsakalmistu cemetery in Tallinn and the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki on the graves of former key ambassadors and diplomats.

In Tallinn, flowers were placed on the graves of Aleksander Warma (the last ambassador of Estonia to Helsinki before the Soviet occupation, 1939-1940, subsequently a member of the government in exile and the prime minister of Estonia acting as the president), Lennart Meri (Estonia’s first ambassador in Helsinki after the restoration of independence, 1992) and Priit Kolbre (Estonia’s ambassador in Helsinki, 2005-2006).

Flowers on the grave of Lennart Meri (Estonia’s first ambassador in Helsinki after the restoration of independence, 1992). Photo by Marko Mumm.

In Helsinki, flowers were placed on the graves of Oskar Kallas (Estonia’s first ambassador to Finland, 1918-1922), Eduard Schwalbe (Estonia’s first consul in Helsinki, 1918-1920), Rudolf Holsti (a foreign minister of Finland, signed the letter of recognition, later served as the Finnish ambassador to Estonia between 1923 and 1927), Alfred Oswald Kairamo (the first diplomatic representative of Finland in Estonia) and Erkki Reijonen (the first ambassador of Finland in Tallinn).

Cover: Lennart Meri, who would later become Estonia’s first ambassador in Helsinki after the restoration of independence, and Eva Lille, a Finnish Estophile, in Helsinki in 1989. Photo courtesy of the Estonian foreign ministry.

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