Bilateral Relations

Turkey recognised the Republic of Estonia on 23 January 1924. Prior to World War II the Turkish ambassador to Estonia was Nuri Batu, who presented his credentials on 19 September 1935. Nine ambassadors resided in Tallinn at the time, and at that point Turkey only had 20 embassies around the world.

Turkey never recognised the Soviet annexation of Estonia. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored on 23 October 1991, after Estonia had regained its independence. The following year Turkey appointed an ambassador to Estonia, residing in Vilnius. On 1 October 2001 Turkey opened its own embassy in Tallinn. Since then the country has been represented in Estonia by ambassadors Ömer Altuğ, Fatma Şule Soysal, Ayşenur Alpaslan, Ahmet Ülker and Hayriye Kumaşçıoğlu. The current Turkish ambassador to Estonia is Süleyman İnan Özyıldız, who presented her credentials to President Kersti Kaljulaid on 5 February 2020.

After Estonia regained its independence, Sven Jürgenson became the country’s first ambassador to Turkey (residing in Tallinn) in 1996. Estonia opened an embassy in Ankara in February 2001. The country’s ambassadors to Turkey have been Märt Volmer, Aivo Orav, Miko Haljas and Marin Mõttus. The current Estonian ambassador to Turkey is Annely Kolk, who presented her credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 3 October 2019.

Cooperation is promoted in the spheres of business and culture and issues faced by Estonian citizens in Turkey are addressed by five honorary consuls in the country: Tuncay Özilhan in Istanbul, Ethem Okudur in Antalya, Barış Kaya in Bursa, Zeyyat Kafkas in Trabzon and Nebil Taşçı in Mersin.

The 12-member Estonian-Turkish parliamentary group in the Riigikogu is led by Mihhail Korb from the Centre Party, while the Turkish-Estonian friendship group in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is led by Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz from the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Relations between Estonia and Turkey are warm and enjoying stable development, as is reflected in the busy schedule of visits and consultations between the two countries. One of the most important events uniting the countries during new century took place in 2010 when President Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited his Turkish counterpart and both heads of state attended the premiere of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament in Istanbul. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Estonia in 2014. At the ministerial level there are normally a number of visits each year.

Estonia and Turkey also work together as members of international organisations. The two countries are allies in NATO, and Turkey was the first country from the southern flank of the organisation to participate in an air-policing mission in the Baltic States (2006).

Regular consultations have been held between high-ranking officials from the countries since 2010. The Estonian and Turkish parliaments also work closely together: in February 2017 a delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu met with colleagues in Turkey and visited the Syrian refugee camp in Gaziantep, while in autumn 2018 the chairman of the same committee of the Turkish parliament, Volkan Bozkır, visited Tallinn. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek spoke at the Lennart Meri conference in Tallinn in May 2018.

Economic contact is growing between the two countries, and there is great interest among business people in mutually beneficial cooperation. A good example of this is the fact that the Gaziantep-based company Akinal Sentetik Tekstil was awarded the title of Most Outstanding Foreign Investor in Estonia in 2018.