Australia–Estonia relations

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Australia–Estonia relations
Map indicating locations of Estonia and Australia


Ambassador Andres Unga Ambassador Jonathan Kenna

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 has an embassy in Canberra which opened in 2015.[2] The current and first ever resident ambassador of Estonia to Australia is Andres Unga.[3] Estonia also has 5 honorary consulates in Australia which are located in Melbourne, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Brisbane.[3]

History of relations[edit]

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (at left) meeting with Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand during Kaljurand's visit to Australia in February 2016

Relations between the two countries began when Australia recognised Estonia on its admission to the League of Nations on 22 September 1921. From 1919–1935, Estonia was represented in Australia by the Finnish Consulate in Sydney. In 1922 Finnish Consul Harald Tanner was named Honorary Consul in Sydney, and served until Estonia sent their own representative in 1935.[4] In 1935 Estonia appointed its own honorary consul, Johannes Kaiv, who served until his promotion to Consul-General in New York in 1939.[5][6][7] Kaiv was succeeded as acting Honorary Consul and later Honorary Vice-Consul (from October 1939) by prominent local Estonian Arvid Mielen.[8][9][10] In October 1940, the Estonian government-in-exile directed the closure of the consulate and its records were given to the Swedish Consulate for storage.[11]

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.[12][13]

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. Independent Estonian consular representatives returned and were maintained until the restoration of independence in 1991.[14]

Relations after 1991[edit]

The Estonian Embassy in Yarralumla, co-located with the Finnish Embassy in Canberra.

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.[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. The President of the Senate John Hogg paid an official visit to Estonia in October 2013.[15] The Embassy of Estonia in Canberra was opened in February 2015, with the first ambassador appointed, Andres Unga, who presented his credentials to Governor-General Quentin Bryce on 28 March 2013, who is also accredited to New Zealand. In February 2016, Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand officially opened the Estonian Embassy in Canberra, co-located with the Embassy of Finland to Australia, and held talks with various Federal Ministers.[16]

Australia has signed a Working Holiday Visas arrangement with Estonia, which came into effect in May 2005.[1][17]

In 2015, Australia and Estonia signed a new social security agreement.[18]


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.[19][20]

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][19]

Cultural and educational[edit]

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

Australia has multiple arrangements with Estonia involving the Estonian Business School, Monash University and Swinburne University of Technology.[1] Tallinn University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Victoria University for cooperation in youth work education.[21]

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.[19][22]


Trade between Australia and Estonia was a modest A$ 60 million in 2013-14.[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.[19]


Five minor Australia–Estonia bilateral treaties covering trade, extradition and other matters have been agreed between the two countries. More extensive treaties between Australia and the European Union, however are extended to Estonia.

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. ^ "Estonia to establish an embassy in Australia | Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b "Foreign embassies and consulates in Australia - Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Retrieved 2015-08-28. 
  4. ^ "CONSULS.". Commonwealth Of Australia Gazette (38). Australia, Australia. 26 April 1928. p. 643. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ "ESTONIAN CONSULATE". The Sydney Morning Herald (30,518). New South Wales, Australia. 25 October 1935. p. 10. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  6. ^ "CONSULS.". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (14). Australia, Australia. 23 January 1936. p. 124. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "CONSUL.". Commonwealth Of Australia Gazette (57). Australia, Australia. 29 September 1938. p. 2292. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "CONSULS.". Commonwealth Of Australia Gazette (23). Australia, Australia. 13 April 1939. p. 607. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ ""I FOUGHT REDS AND GERMANS"". The Sun (1905). New South Wales, Australia. 1 October 1939. p. 7 (NEWS SECTION). Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ "CONSULS.". Commonwealth Of Australia Gazette (41). Australia, Australia. 29 June 1939. p. 1175. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  11. ^ "CONSUL.". Commonwealth Of Australia Gazette (216). Australia, Australia. 24 October 1940. p. 2273. Retrieved 7 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ Antonio Cassese, Self-Determination of Peoples, Cambridge University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-521-63752-X, p259
  15. ^ "Estonia country brief - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Retrieved 2015-08-28. 
  16. ^ "Foreign Minister Kaljurand opened the Estonian Embassy in Australia | Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  17. ^ "Australia, Estonia, establish working holiday maker program". Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  18. ^ "Social Security Agreement between Australia and Estonia - Information Sheet | Department of Social Services, Australian Government". 2016-09-27. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Australia". Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ "Koostöö TLÜ Pedagoogilise Seminari ja Austraalia Victoria Ülikooli vahel / Tallinna Ülikool". 2015-01-27. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  22. ^ – Adelaide Symphony Orchestra acclaims Archived August 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]