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Austria - Relations

15.09.2015

(last updated: 15.08.2014)


Austria recognised the Republic of Estonia on 26 June 1921 and again after the restoration of Estonia’s independence on 28 August 1991. Diplomatic relations between the two nations were re-established on 8 January 1992. The formal opening of the Austrian Embassy in Tallinn in October 1997 was attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schüssel.

Bilateral relations between Estonia and Austria are very good and co-operation is extensive, covering close communication in political relations as well as in the areas of economy, education, and culture. Estonian Ambassador to Austria Rein Oidekivi presented his credentials to the president of Austria on 7 October 2015. Previously Estonia has been represented in Vienna by ambassadors Eve-Külli Kala (2010-2015), Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi (2003-2009), Mart Laanemäe (1999-2003), and Toivo Tasa (1995-1999).

Estonia has five honorary consuls in Austria: Sirje Winding-Frauenlob in Salzburg, Michael Friedrich Seidl in the states of Styria and Carinthia, Rainer Henn in the area of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, Klaus Schmied in the state of Upper Austria, and Hubert Tramposch in Innsbruck, who represents Estonia in Tirolia and Vorarlberg.

Ambassadors of Austria to Estonia:

since 08.09.2015  Doris Danler

23.11.2011 - 17.08.2015 Renate Kobler

08.02.2007 - 06.11.2011 Angelika Saupe-Berchtold
04.12.2001 – 15.12.2006 Dr. Jakub Forst-Battaglia
30.10.1997 – 28.11.2001 Michael Miess
15.12.1994 – 30.10.1997 Wendelin Ettmayer (residing in Helsinki)
08.01.1992 – 15.12.1994 Manfred Ortner (residing in Helsinki)

The honorary consul of Austria in Estonia since 24 November 1992 is Enn Vels.

The Austrian defence attaché in Estonia is Brigadier General August Reiter, who resides in Stockholm. Estonia has not appointed a defence attaché to Austria.

In October 2004, the Estonian-Austrian Parliamentary group was re-established in the Riigikogu.

Visits

To Austria
September 2012 Minister of Economic Affairs Juhan Parts
June 2012 Minister of Culture Rein Lang
December 2011 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
January 2011 Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
November 2010 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
February 2010 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
June 2007 Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma
March 2005 Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Tarmo Kõuts
December 2004 Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma
September 2004 Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland
July 2004 Minister of Finance Taavi Veskimägi
July 2004 President Arnold Rüütel
January 2003 Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland
November 2002 President Arnold Rüütel
September 2002 President Arnold Rüütel
July 2002 President Arnold Rüütel
November 2001 President Lennart Meri, Minister of Finance Siim Kallas and Minister of Economic Affairs Henrik Hololei
August 2001 Prime Minister Mart Laar 
July 2001 Prime Minister Mart Laar
November 2000 Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves
July 2000 President Lennart Meri

 

To Estonia
June 2014 Federal President Heinz Fischer
August 2009 Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger
April 2007 Federal President Heinz Fischer
March 2007 Chief of Defence Staff General Roland Ertl
May 2006 Prime Minister of Upper Austria Josef Pühringer
August-September 2005 Minister of Defence Günther Platter
June 2005 Minister of education Elisabeth Gehrer
June 2005 President of the National Council (Nationalrat) of the Austrian Parliament Dr Andreas Khol
January 2004 Minister of Internal Affairs Ernst Strasser
April 2002 President Dr Thomas Klestil
July 2001 Minister of Internal Affairs Dr Ernst Strasser
April 2001 Foreign Minister Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Agreements

Following agreements have been concluded between Estonia and Austria:

  • Loan Agreement (came into force 05.07.93);
  • Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (came into force 01.10.95);
  • Agreement on the International Route Bus Carriage of Passengers (came into force 01.05.97);
  • Agreement on Non-Regular International Carriage of Passengers (came into force 01.05.97);
  • Agreement regarding the exemption from visa requirement (came into force 20 July 1999);
  • Agreement regarding the readmission of persons (agreement on readmission) (came into force 1 September 2001);
  • Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Income Tax and the Hindrance of the Evasion of Taxes (came into force 12.11.02);
  • Agreement on the exchange and reciprocal protection of classified information (came into force 01.02.2010)
  • Agreement addressing reciprocal diplomatic and consular representation for the issuing of visas, according to which Austria will begin to represent Estonia for visa matters in Saudi Arabia and Qatar (came into force 01.11.2009)
  • Agreement on the exchange and mutual protection of classified information (came into force 01.02.2010).
  • Agreement on co-operation in the area of the labour market between the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs and the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (came into force 07.03.2011).

Economic Relations

Estonia's economic contacts with Austria have been relatively modest, but growing. Although Austrian companies are primarily interested in Central Europe, and recently also the Balkan region, during the last decade Austrian businesses have also shown interest in markets further abroad.

Austria covers Estonia economically and commercially through its Commercial Agency in Helsinki. Its office in Tallinn primarily organises the visits of Austrian business delegations to Estonia. The exchange of business delegations over the past few years has had a positive impact on the development of trade between the two countries and on advanced direct contacts between companies.

TRADE

Austria has maintained its position around the 20th-24th foreign trade partner of Estonia, making up about 0.6-1% of the total trade volume. Although the export of Estonian goods to Austria has grown four times greater  in the last ten years, Estonia’s trade with Austria has always resulted in a negative balance for Estonia.

The global economic crisis also had an effect on Estonia-Austria trade, bringing a decrease in trade volumes over the past few years. As of 2011 there are noticeable signs of growth in both export and import compared to 2009 and 2010.


Estonia-Austria trade 2006-2012 (in millions of EUR):

  EXPORT % of main export IMPORT * % of main import
2006 37.9 0.5 119.1 1.1
2007 51.6 0.6 119.6 1.0
2008 37.9 0.4 85.1 0.8
2009 25.6 0.4 55.1 0.8
2010 33.6 0.4 70.9 0.8
2011 47.4 0.4 101.7 0.8
2012 41.6 0.3 115.8 0.8

* Imports according to sending nation      
Source: Statistical Office of Estonia
 

Main export articles in 2012:

  • Machinery and equipment - 31%
  • Wood and wooden products - 23.2%
  • Chemical products – 13.4%
  • Other manufactured goods - 11.8%

Main import articles in 2012:

  • Machinery and equipment - 27.6%
  • Chemical products - 18.1%
  • Plastic and rubber products – 11.5%
  • Metals and metal products - 9.2%

INVESTMENTS

According to Bank of Estonia data, Austria's direct investments in Estonia as of 31 March 2013 amounted to 213.3 million euros and made up 1.4% of investments in Estonia, which placed it in 14th place among investing nations. The most investments were made in the manufacturing industry, financial and insurance activity, wholesale and retail trade, and agriculture.

According to the Estonian Commercial Register, as of 14 March 2013 there were 96 businesses with Austrian participation registered in Estonia, 30 of them with 100% Austrian capital. The biggest of these are are NOVOLOTO AS (gambling organiser), Wienerberger AS (ceramic bricks, roof tiles), Henkel Macroflex AS, ECE Capital OÜ, and Ühinenud Farmid AS.
The total value of Estonian investments in Austria as of 31 March 2012 was 1.1 million EUR. Investments have been made in real estate, financial intermediation, wholesale and retail trade, and the information and communication sector.

TOURISM

Tourism contacts between Estonia and Austria have grown remarkably since Estonia joined the EU. In 2008, about 8 600 visitors from Austria stopped in Estonian accommodation establishments. In 2009 the number was about 6 800. In 2010 and 2011 the number of tourists dropped, but in 2012 there was once again a total of about 8 300 Austrians who spent the night in Estonian accommodation establishments. In addition to Tallinn, tourists were also interested in Tartu County, Pärnu County, and West and East Viru County. Austria has also become more and more popular as a destination for Estonian travellers. In 2008, 11 400 people visited Austria with the help of travel agencies, and in 2009 nearly 8 000 Estonians did so.

Cultural and educational co-operation

Estonia’s co-operation with Austria’s ministries of education, research and culture throughout the years has been very close and well-functioning. Bilateral co-operation in training German language teachers also deserves to be mentioned. In addition, for years now there has been an Austrian guest teacher exchange programme, within the framework of which a teacher from Austria spends four weeks in various Estonian schools. Every year since 2003, two Estonian teachers have had the opportunity to participate in an equivalent programme in Austrian schools. The Estonian language has been taught at the University of Vienna since 1978.

Nearly every large Estonian institute of higher education has direct contacts for advancing co-operation with Austrian universities. Partnership agreements for the exchange of students and instructors through the Socrates-Erasmus programme are very common, and co-operation also takes place within the framework of various joint projects and networks.

Close cultural contacts between the two nations developed immediately after Estonia's re-independence; along with contacts in literature and art, especially close contacts have been created in the fields of theatre and music.

On the initiative of Honorary Consul Henn-Jüri Uibopuu, Austria donated over 3 000 books to the Estonian National Library in 1991. Thanks to the further co-operation between the Austrian Embassy in Tallinn, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Estonian National Library, in 1993 an Austrian Reading Room was opened in the National Library.

The works of many Estonian authors (Jaan Kross, Jaan Undusk, Ene Mihkelson) have been recognised with the Herder Prize given out by the University of Vienna. Translator Rita Tasa earned the First Class Honour Cross of Austrian Science and Art in 2000.

Contacts between theatre and music people have grown especially close. Many Estonian performers are active in Austria, for example Ain Anger is a soloist at the Staatsoper Wien and Annely Peebo is working at the Volksoper Wien (as a mezzo-soprano).

Many contacts between Estonia and Austria have been created by the music of Arvo Pärt. The year 2005 in Austria could have been called The Year of Pärt, since many concerts took place that included his works. In addition to the Herder Prize, which Pärt had won earlier, in 2008 he was presented at Kadriorg Art Museum with the First Class Honour Cross of Austrian Science and Art.

Copious cultural events have become one of the most important tools for introducing Estonia. The following are some highlights from the eventful cultural calendar of 2010: the premiere of Arvo Pärt’s 4th Symphony in Vienna’s Konzerthaus and the concert of the Tallinn Philharmonic directed by Andres Mustonen in the Musikverin.

At the Urania Nordic film festival in April 2010, it was possible for Austrian film fans to become acquainted with newer Estonian cinema. Estonian theatre in the form of productions by NO99 was enjoyed by the theatre-going public of Vienna on two occasions. In 2011 a number of events took place that introduced Tallinn as the European Capital of Culture.

In 2012 the duo of Olav Ehala and Lembit Saarsalu gave a concert in the state government building in Innsbruck. A presentation of the works of Estonian artists took place in Vienna at the most impressive fair showcasing contemporary art ViennaFair, in addition to the presentation of the catalogue of young artist Merike Estna and events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Estonian film.

Estonian societies in Austria

When then-Estonian President Lennart Meri visited Salzburg in 2000, the Salzburg Estonian Society was informally founded. The formal establishment of the society took place in 2002 (with 14 founding members). The society president is Estonian Deputy Honorary Consul to the state of Salzburg Sirje Winding-Frauenlob.

In addition to the society in Salzburg, there is also a Estonian society that brings Austrians together in Vienna

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