Finland and Estonia are neighbours and kindred nations, who share a geographical location, similar language, culture and often also family ties. The development of our nations has been very similar, with centuries of connections over the Baltic Sea. Our nations experienced the rise of nationalism and gained independence almost simultaneously.
The Second World War brought many changes, often with violence, and countries like Finland and Estonia, who were positioned between Germany and the Soviet Union, faced pressure and were attacked. As a result, our nations parted ways for almost half a century.
When the Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago, Estonia's bold and determined action was rewarded when Estonia regained its independence. Interaction between Finnish and Estonian civil societies had been growing since the 1980's. Cultural ties, which were revived quickly after re-independence, paved the way for other forms of interaction. Official ties between the two countries were reinstated in August 1991.
Cooperation between our two nations increased even more after Estonia joined the European Union in 2004 and is now tighter than ever. Economic integration continues to deepen, while moving to the other side of the Gulf of Finland for work or studies is becoming more and more common. Tourism is increasing and becoming more varied and, thanks to the Schengen Agreement, crossing the borders is nowadays much easier. At the beginning of 2011, Estonia will join the Euro area and become Finland's first neighbour with a common currency. We can only guess how big of an influence this will have on our relations.
Finland has empathized strongly with Estonia while it has developed into a modern, democratic and economically wealthier nation. Nowadays, Finns and Estonians are building a better Europe together with the other European Union member states. At the same time we continue to respect our national characteristics, which are responsible for the close bond our two countries share.
The Finnish Embassy in Tallinn will continue to work on strengthening the relations between Finland and Estonia by learning from each other and respecting each other.
17 September 2010
Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen