In a context of shared history and friendship, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, welcomes Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, to Ottawa today. The year 2018 marks the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, which came into being on February 24, 1918, with the proclamation of the Estonian Declaration of Independence. Although Estonia suffered successive occupations during World War II and was then incorporated into the Soviet Union, Canada never recognized the Soviet occupation of Estonia and was one of the first countries to recognize Estonia’s restored de facto independence in 1991.
Post-1945, Canada accepted thousands of Estonian refugees. There are now approximately 24,000 Canadians of Estonian origin, representing one of the largest Estonian diasporas in the world.
Prime Minister Ratas’ visit to Canada during this centennial anniversary year reflects the value both countries place on their relationship, and on the strong personal ties that exist between them. Following Estonia’s restored independence, many Estonian-Canadians returned to Estonia to facilitate its democratization efforts. Prime Ministers Trudeau and Ratas recognize the valuable contributions of Estonian Canadians to those efforts and to Canada’s multicultural fabric.
The Prime Ministers today affirm the warm relations between Estonia and Canada, and celebrate their shared devotion to protecting and advancing fundamental values, including democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Prime Ministers Trudeau and Ratas reaffirm their support for the rules-based international order and all its institutions. They are committed to seek ways to strengthen and improve these institutions in order to protect and advance freedom and democratic integrity in all countries.
Today, the two Prime Ministers also agree to broaden cooperation in digital government and the digital economy; defence and security; and trade, in light of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)’s provisional application.
Digital Government and Economy
Prime Ministers Trudeau and Ratas are pleased to highlight a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on digital cooperation, concluded today by the President of the Treasury Board of Canada and a Representative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Estonia.
Canada and Estonia are members of the Digital7, a group of leading digital nations seeking to harness digital technology and improve digital services for the benefit of its citizens. Both countries are also members of the Open Government Partnership, a leading global, multilateral initiative focusing on open government. The aim of this partnership is to promote transparency, harness new technologies to strengthen governance and improve service delivery, empower citizens and fight corruption, in partnership with civil society and the private sector and in manner that protects individual rights and engages all people, with a focus on women and girls. Under this new MOU, both countries will work together on joint projects, the exchange of experts, and other ways to share good practices as well as concrete digital solutions to advance these priorities.
Defence and Security
Both countries cooperate on defence issues as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. Canada was the first country to ratify Estonia's accession to NATO in 2004. Furthermore, since 2016 Canadian officers have been stationed in Tallinn, Estonia, as part of the NATO Forces Integration Unit in in the country. Canada also has an officer appointed to the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia as the Deputy Commandant.
Both Canada and Estonia are key players in NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence initiative, with Canada leading the multinational Battle Group Latvia since June 2017, and Estonia serving as host nation to the United Kingdom-led Battle Group Estonia. Canada and Estonia will continue to work with all NATO allies to ensure regional and Alliance security.
Prime Ministers Trudeau and Ratas express their commitment to work together to realize the full potential of their bilateral trade and investment relationship. The Estonian delegation includes a number of business leaders, who will work with Canadian counterparts to build on the existing strong economic and trade relationship.
The Prime Ministers welcome the provisional application of CETA. This historic agreement offers many new opportunities for well-paying jobs through reinvigorated and diversified trade and investment. Canadian and Estonian businesses, including start-up companies in the information and communication technology, agriculture, cleantech and renewable energy sectors, will benefit from new opportunities under this agreement.