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100 Years of Diplomatic Relations: Estonia and the United Kingdom

The purpose of this event is to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Estonia and the UK, when on 26 January 1921 the United Kingdom gave formal de jure recognition to the Republic of Estonia.

On 24 February 1918 the Estonian Declaration of Independence was published in Tallinn and proclaimed an independent democratic Republic of Estonia. In the War of Independence which followed, the UK, particularly the Royal Navy, was an important ally. At the Battle of Võnnu (Cēsis, Wenden) on 23 June 1919 (‘Victory Day’) Estonia won the decisive victory over a German division. On 2 February 1920 the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed between Estonia and Soviet Russia. This made Estonia a de jure independent state and the Treaty stated "Russia unreservedly recognizes the independence and sovereignty of the State of Estonia, and renounces voluntarily and forever all sovereign rights possessed by Russia over the Estonian people and territory.”

That independence continued until 16 June 16 1940 when, following the Hitler-Stalin Pact, Soviet troops marched into Estonia and established control over the country. From then the UK recognised Estonia’s independence de jure but not de facto. De facto recognition was restored in 1991. On 6 September that year the Soviet Union recognized the independence of Estonia and the country was admitted to the United Nations on 17 September. On 31 August 1994 Russia’s armed forces withdrew from Estonian territory. In 2004 Estonia became a member of NATO on 29 March and of the European Union on 1 May. The euro replaced the kroon as the official currency of Estonia on 1 January 2011. This online webinar will explore the diplomatic relationship between the UK and Estonia over these 100 years.

This special event is organised by the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University and the University of Tartu, in collaboration with the Estonian Embassy in London, the British Embassy in Tallinn and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It forms part of a broader series on Britain and the Baltic.


Centenary message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Panel Chair: Rt Hon Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary

Patrick Salmon, Chief historian at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and an expert on Britain's relationship with the Baltic

Kaarel Piirimäe, Associate professor at the Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu and a senior research fellow at the Estonian War Museum

Märt Volmer, Estonian Undersecretary for European Affairs

Wendy Morton MP, Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

The webinar will conclude with remarks from the UK Ambassador to Estonia, Theresa Bubbear and the Estonian Ambassador to the UK, Tiina Intelmann.

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