Australia–Estonia relations

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Australian–Estonian relations
Map indicating locations of Estonia and Australia



Australia–Estonia relations are foreign relations between Australia and Estonia. Australia first recognised Estonia on 22 September 1921.[1] Australia was among the first countries to re-recognise Estonia's independence on 27 August 1991. Both countries re-established diplomatic relations on 21 November 1991.[1]

Australia is represented in Estonia through its embassy in Stockholm (Sweden), and through an honorary consulate in Tallinn. Estonia is represented in Australia by a resident embassy in Canberra opened on 1st January 2015[2] and through its Consulate-General, headed by the Consul-General Ms Triinu Rajasalu in Sydney and through 2 honorary consulates (Mrs Anu van Hattem in Perth and Dr Delaney Skerrett in Brisbane).


Australia is host to one of the largest communities of Estonians abroad, with 8,232 people identifying as Estonian in the 2006 Australian Census.[1][3]

Relations during the Soviet occupation[edit]

Australia was the only Western country to break ranks and briefly recognise the Soviet annexation of Estonia (and the other Baltic states) as de jure for 17 months between July 1974 to December 1975 by the Whitlam government, while most other countries continued to recognise the independent Estonian diplomatic missions. This recognition of the Soviet annexation by the Whitlam government was repudiated by the subsequent Fraser government and relations with the independent Estonian consular representative re-established and maintained until the restoration on independence in 1991.[4][5]

Following the election of the new Liberal PartyAustralian Country Party coalition in December 1975, the new government withdrew de jure recognition of the incorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union. On 17 December of that year the Australian government instructed the Australian ambassador in Moscow that he and his staff were not to make any official visits to the Estonian SSR.[6]


In July 1998 Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann visited Australia. An Australian Parliamentary delegation, led by the former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Sue West, visited Tallinn in October 1999. The most recent high-level visit was by the then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Mr Philip Ruddock, in April 2002.[1] Estonian Parliamentary delegation, led by the Speaker of Riigikogu Ene Ergma visited Australia in 2008. In 2009 Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet visited Australia and opened Estonian Honorary Consulate in Perth. In April 2010 Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith participated in the Meeting of ISAF Foreign Ministers in Tallinn, Estonia.

Australia has signed a Working Holiday Visas arrangement with Estonia, which came into effect in May 2005.[1][7]

In 2009-10, Australia and Estonia negotiated on a new social security agreement.[8][9]


Australia has two arrangements with Estonia involving the Estonian Business School, Monash University and Swinburne University of Technology.[1]

The first Estonians settled in Australia in 1853 and the first Estonian Society was established in Melbourne in 1914. People settled primarily around Sydney. After Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940 and again in 1944, numerous Estonian exiles settled in Australia, contributing to development of Estonian culture in Australia. Estonian Houses were set up in Sydney (1940), Thirlmere (1952), Melbourne (1955), Adelaide (1957) and Perth (1966). Australia has the fifth largest Estonian community after Russia, Canada, Sweden and the USA. Sir Arvi Parbo, chairman of three of Australia's largest companies, is one of the best-known Estonians in Australia.[3][10]

Estonian culture has been presented in Australia by many Estonian artists and musicians, including the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and composer Arvo Pärt – honorary doctor of Sydney University. Arvo Volmer has been the principal conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra since 2004. The Estonian Archives in Sydney were established in 1952 and hold the majority of all printed Estonian works that were published outside of Estonia following World War II.[3][11]


Monthly value of Australian merchandise exports to Estonia (A$ millions) since 1995
Monthly value of Estonian merchandise exports to Australia (A$ millions) since 1997

Trade between Australia and Estonia was a modest A$ 29 million in 2007–2008.[1] Merchandise trade between Australia and Estonia has been unstable, partly due to a big distance between the countries. Estonia's biggest import are alcoholic beverages (wines) and Australia's are wood and wood products.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about relations with Estonia". Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Archived from the original on 12 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d "Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Australia". Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  4. ^ Edgars Dunsdorfs, The Baltic dilemma: the case of the de jure recognition by Australia of the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union, Speller, 1975, ISBN 0-8315-0148-0
  5. ^ James T. McHugh, James S. Pacy, Diplomats without a country: Baltic diplomacy, international law, and the Cold War, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, ISBN 0-313-31878-6, pp135-151
  6. ^ Antonio Cassese, Self-Determination of Peoples, Cambridge University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-521-63752-X, p259
  7. ^ – Australia, Estonia, establish working holiday maker program, 20 May 2005
  8. ^ "Australia, Estonia to forge new deal". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-03. Australia and Estonia are set to begin negotiations on a new social security agreement. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Paet, will begin talks in Perth on Monday. 
  9. ^ - Social Security Agreement Being Negotiated with Australia, 23 April 2010
  10. ^ Jupp, James. The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, its People and their Origins, 2nd Edition. Canberra: Australian National University. pp. 345–347. ISBN 978-0-521-80789-0. 
  11. ^ – Adelaide Symphony Orchestra acclaims

External links[edit]