Last updated in June 2017

Political relations

High points in the intensive diplomatic exchange between the two countries include the visits to Estonia by Federal President Horst Köhler in November 2004 and June 2005 and Federal President Christian Wulff in September 2010 and the state visit in July 2013 by Federal President Joachim Gauck, who was accompanied by a business delegation. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves paid a state visit to Germany from 18 to 21 May 2015 accompanied by a business delegation. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited Estonia in April 2015. Foreign Minister Steinmeier again held talks in Estonia during his visit to the Baltic States in May 2016. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited Estonia in March 2017. Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser travelled to Berlin on 21 June 2017 for talks with Foreign Minister Gabriel. After paying his first official visit to Berlin in March 2014, Estonia’s then Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas took part in the German Government’s Cabinet meeting at Schloss Meseberg in May 2016. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Estonia in August 2016. Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas paid a visit to Federal Chancellor Merkel on 15 June 2017. Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt  visited Estonia from 27 to 28 October 2016 and from 10 to 14 June 2017.

Regular trips to Estonia by Members of the German Bundestag and high-ranking representatives of Germany’s ministerial administration underline the important position Estonia occupies in German foreign and European policy. A good example is the visit to Estonia by a delegation from the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States in June 2016.

A delegation from the Bundestag Committee on the Digital Agenda visited Tallinn in October 2015 to gather comprehensive information on e-governance and digital developments in Estonia. In February 2016, an Estonian parliamentary delegation visited Germany at the invitation of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Baltic States. A German delegation accompanying Hesse’s European and Federal Affairs Minister Lucia Puttrich visited Estonia in April 2016 to attend the German Spring cultural festival. Since then, there have been numerous further trips to Estonia by German delegations – and vice versa.

Together with twinned towns and districts in Germany, the German federal states are helping to foster German-Estonian relations. Representatives of Germany’s regional governments and parliaments regularly travel to Estonia for talks.

Economic relations

In 2016, Germany was Estonia’s fourth largest trading partner, after Finland, Sweden and Latvia. During the same period, trade between Estonia and Germany was worth 2.2 billion euros, accounting for approximately 9 percent of Estonia’s total foreign trade. Germany is the second largest supplier of Estonia’s imports after Finland, accounting for approximately 11 percent (1.5 billion euros) of the country’s total imports (imports from Germany were also worth 1.5 billion euros in 2015).

Germany ranks sixth as a destination for Estonian exports, taking 6 percent of Estonia’s total exports. Estonian exports to Germany rose by 16 percent to 704 million euros in 2016, compared with 607.8 million euros and 589 million euros in 2015 and 2014 respectively. The main destinations for Estonian exports are Sweden (18 percent), Finland (16 percent), Latvia (9 percent) and Russia (7 percent). Germany occupies 12th place among foreign direct investors in Estonia. Sweden remains the largest foreign direct investor in the country, with investments valued at approximately 4 billion euros, or 26 percent of all foreign direct investment in Estonia.

Some 400 companies registered in Estonia have German equity participation. The German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, which has an office in Tallinn, provides a direct liaison for German business and industry.

Cultural relations

Cultural cooperation between Germany and Estonia has a long tradition. Trade and business relations date back to the Hanseatic League, and the influence of the Baltic German population endured for 700 years. The strong position of the German language up to the mid-1990s and the influence of German thought on Estonia’s intellectual history have been important factors in preserving cultural ties between Estonians and Germans, even during the period of the Soviet occupation.

After Estonia regained its independence in 1991, cultural relations further intensified. The main players here are the German Embassy and numerous German intermediary organisations, such as the Goethe-Institut (GI), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), as well as other non-governmental organisations and their Estonian partners. Cultural cooperation focuses on promoting the German language, scientific and academic cooperation and the cultural programmes of the GI in Tallinn.

The German Spring, a wide-ranging programme of events showcasing German organisations and their partners, has been held annually in Estonia since 2010. In the past years, German federal states have been guests at the event: Bavaria in 2013, Schleswig-Holstein in 2014, Hesse in 2016 and Baden-Württemberg in 2017. In 2017, the German Spring was held from 25 April to 25 May.


This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.

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