Estonia and Spain celebrate the centenary of diplomatic relations

On 8 March 1921, the Kingdom of Spain recognised the young Republic of Estonia de jure, which laid the basis for formal diplomatic contacts; on 8 March 2021, the two countries celebrated the centenary of their diplomatic relations.

Spain, like most major powers, recognised Estonia in March 1921. The de jure recognition from major powers brought increased political and territorial security and opened the door to subsequent acts of recognition, as well as providing an opportunity to launch friendly relations and boost economic prosperity through trade.

Spain’s first ambassador to Estonia was Joaquin de Ezpeleta, who resided in Helsinki, Finland. Estonia’s first ambassador to Spain, Karl Robert Pusta, was appointed to the post in 1928 and he resided permanently in Paris.

Spain’s first ambassador to Estonia was Joaquin de Ezpeleta (second left; here with the Latvian, Italian and French ambassadors), who resided in Helsinki, Finland. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

Spain didn’t recognise the Soviet occupation

When the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in 1940, Madrid did not recognise the annexation and Pusta continued to represent the country in Spain as the representative of the Estonian government in exile. After Pusta’s death in 1964, his role was carried over by Villibald Raud until 1979.

An Estonian diplomat in exile, Villibald Raud (right) represented Estonia in Spain from 1964-1979. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

When Estonia regained its independence, Spain renewed its recognition of the country and diplomatic relations were restored on 10 September 1991. The country opened its embassy in Tallinn in March 2004; the current Spanish ambassador is Teresa Orjales Vidal.

The current Spanish ambassador to Estonia is Teresa Orjales Vidal. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

Estonia opened its embassy in Madrid in June 1997 and its current ambassador to Spain is Mariin Ratnik.

Estonia has also seven honorary consuls in Spain: Josep Luis Rovira and David Rovira in the region of Catalonia (Barcelona), Fernando Franco Fernàndez in the region of Andalusia (Seville), Sergio Tadeo Benitez in the Canary Islands, José Vicente Morata Estragués in Valencia, Tomás Antón Lorca in Galicia (Ferrol) and Isidoro Alejandro Beltrán de Heredia Dreyfus in the Basque Country.

An exhibition opened in Madrid

“Although Estonia and Spain are located in different parts of Europe and may at first glance appear very different, they actually share many common characteristics,” the Estonian foreign ministry said. “Spain consistently supported Estonia’s endeavours to join the EU and NATO. Economic reforms have been quite similar in both countries, insofar as both states have strived to diminish state interference in the economy while expanding the role of the private sector.”

Estonia’s embassy in Madrid. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

Spain has also participated in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, deploying its fighter jets to Ämari Air Base in Estonia in 2017 and 2015.

To celebrate the centenary of diplomatic relations of Estonia and Spain, the outdoor exhibition, “Outlook – 100 years of Street Photography in Estonia”, opened on the street of Paseo de Recoletos near Plaza de Colón in Madrid on 8 March. The exhibition depicts the development of documentary photography in Estonia over the course of a century, from the first period of independence up to the present day. The exhibition is on display in Madrid from 8 March until 4 April and will travel to other Spanish cities throughout this year.

Cover: Estonia’s ambassador to Spain (and Andorra), Mariin Ratnik (right) and the Spanish king, Felipe VI. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

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