Estonia and Portugal »

Portugal - Relations


(last updated: 23.05.2016)

Portugal recognised the Republic of Estonia de facto in 1918 and de jure on 6 February 1921. Portugal never recognised the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union. As a sign of protest, the right of centre minority government prohibited a parliamentary delegation from visiting Estonia during its visit to the Soviet Union in 1987. On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia the highest Estonian state decoration, the Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, was given to Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, who was a supporter of the non-recognition policy of Estonia’s occupation during his time as prime minister. Portugal re-recognised the Republic of Estonia on 27 August 1991 and diplomatic relations were re-established on 1 October 1991.

Portuguese Ambassadors to Estonia

  • Dr. Jorge Alberto Nogueira De Lemos Godinho (1993 - 1996)
  • Mr. Manuel Moreira de Andrade (1996 - 2001)
  • Mr. Filipe Guterres (2001 - 2004)
  • Mr. João Manuel da Cruz da Silva Leitão (2004- 2005)
  • Mrs. Ana Paula Baptista Grade Zacarias (2005 –2009)
  • Mrs. Maria de Fátima de Pina Perestrello (2009 - 2016)

A Portuguese Embassy was located in Tallinn from 12 September 2006 until 29 February 2012. Now Portugal is once again covering Estonia from its embassy in Helsinki.

Estonian Chargés d'Affaires a.i. and Ambassadors:

  • Andres Tomasberg (non-resident ambassador, resided in Paris) (1996 – 1997)
  • Meelike Palli (Chargé d'Affaires a.i) (1997–1999)
  • Paul Lettens (Chargé d'Affaires a.i) (1999–2002)
  • Raul Mälk (non-resident ambassador, resided in London, and from 2001 in Tallinn) (2000 – 2003)
  • Märt Piiskop (Chargé d'Affaires a.i) (2002–2003)
  • Aino Leppik von Wirén (the first Estonian ambassador, to reside in Lisbon) (2003 – 2006)
  • Mart Tarmak (2006 – 2010)
  • Marin Mõttus (2010 – 2013)
  • Andres Rundu (since 30 October 2013)

Prime Minister Mart Siimann, visiting Lisbon in connection with the EXPO world's fair, officially opened the Embassy of Estonia in Lisbon in August 1998.

Estonia has three honorary consuls in Portugal: Mário Nuno dos Santos Ferreira in the city of Porto in northern Portugal, Gonçalo Martins Dias in the city of Tavira in southern Portugal and Fernando Sérgio Faria de Freitas Catanho in Madeira.


To Portugal
June 2017
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas
May 2015
President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor at the II Summit of Speakers of Parliaments of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean
September 2014
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the Arraiolos Group meeting in Braga
June 2014
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
December 2011 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves within the framework of the European Union e-health working group
July 2009 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
September 2007 Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma
December 2006 Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
November 2005 In a state visit, President Arnold Rüütel met President of the Republic of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio; Chairman of the Assembly, Jaime Gama and Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates
June 2004 Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Teresa Gouveia and Parliament Speaker João Mota Amaral
April 2004 Prime Minister Juhan Parts
March 2003 Chairman of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma took part in the Conference on the role of National Parliaments in Lisbon
November 2001 Prime Minister Mart Laar
May 2000 Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Minister of Defence Jüri Luik at the meeting of ministers of the WEU in Porto


To Estonia
April 2017
Secretary of State for European Affairs Margarida Marques
December 2014
Secretary of State for European Affairs Bruno Maçães
March 2012 Deputy Foreign Minister and Secretary of State for EU Affairs Miguel Morais Leitão
March 2009 Foreign Minister Luís Amado
December 2007 Prime Minister José Sócrates as the leader of the delegation of EU and Schengen nations for the event celebrating the expansion of the Schengen area in Tallinn
September 2006 Deputy Foreign Minister and Secretary of State for European Affairs Manuel Lobo Antunes
September 2004 Secretary of State for European Affairs Mário Santos David
May 2003 State visit of the President of Portugal Jorge Fernande Branco de Sampaio
November 2002 Secretary of State for European Affairs Carlos Henrique da Costa Neves

Bilateral Relations

Estonia and Portugal have good relations. During the past few years the number of high-level visits and cultural links between Estonia and Portugal has increased. The year 2009 had historical significance because President Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited Portugal and Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Amado made his first visit to Estonia. In September of 2014, President Ilves participated in the Arraiolos Group meeting in Braga. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet visited Portugal in June of 2014. Relations on the working level are quite close. In March of 2010, a memorandum of mutual understanding was signed by the foreign ministries of Estonia and Portugal, in which the two sides agreed to hold bilateral consultations once a year.

In May of 2014, an important milestone in bilateral security and defence policy cooperation was the three-day exercise in the field of cyber security held in Lisbon, jointly organised by Estonia, Portugal and the European Defence Agency (EDA). The idea of the exercise was to play through a cyber-crisis situation on the level of strategic decision-makers. The goal was to raise awareness regarding cyber security, cyber-crisis management capacity building, and introducing and deploying new approaches to leadership. The training’s theoretical part was followed by a practical exercise.

Estonia and Portugal have had effective cooperation, where diplomats have been able to use the premises of each other's missions. From April 2013 to June 2014, an Estonian diplomat worked at the Portuguese Embassy in Brasilia, Portuguese diplomats worked at the Estonian Embassy in Vilnius during Lithuania’s Chairmanship of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2013, at the Estonian Embassy in Riga, Latvia, from December 2014 to June 2015, and at the Estonian Embassy in Astana from September 2014 to December 2015.

Portugal contributed to the air policing of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with planes from September 2014 until the end of that year and is participating in the rotation in the summer of 2016. Portugal also contributed in the Baltic air policing rotation in 2007.

In the XIII Riigikogu, the chairman of the Estonia-Portugal parliamentary group is Aivar Sõerd and the vice-chairman is Igor Gräzin.


Prior to World War II Estonia and Portugal already had a trade agreement. Currently there are seven intergovernmental agreements between Estonia and Portugal:

  • Agreement on the Abolishment of Visa Requirements
  • Agreement on Co-operation in the Field of Tourism
  • Agreement Concerning International Transport of Passengers and Goods by Road
  • Co-operation Agreement in the Fields of Language, Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Youth, Sport and Media
  • Agreement on the Readmission of Persons
  • Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Income Tax Evasion
  • Republic of Estonia and the Portuguese Republic Agreement on Mutual Protection of Classified Information

Co-operation memoranda have also been signed between the Estonian and Portuguese defense ministries and foreign ministries.

Economic Relations

Potential areas of co-operation between Estonia and Portugal are tourism, information and communications technology, and research and development activity, as well as renewable energy production or the food processing industry. In May of 2011, a group of Portuguese entrepreneurs founded the Luso-Baltic Chamber of Commerce, the goal of which is to develop economic contacts between the Baltic countries and Portuguese-speaking countries. By September 2011 the board of the chamber was visiting Estonia and finding contacts. During the economic and financial crisis that has plaged Portugal and in subsequent years, its activity was inhibited. The modest economic growth that has begun in Portugal has allowed the Luso-Baltic Chamber of Commerce and Industry to become more active once again. In 2015, the Luso-Baltic Chamber of Commerce managed to get its own separate office space in Northern Portugal in Viseu.

In May of 2012, the Estonian embassy, in cooperation with the Luso-Baltic Chamber of Commerce and AICEP, organized business seminars in Porto and Lisbon where Estonia’s business climate was introduced by Maria Alajõe, a Member of the Board of Enterprise Estonia.

In May of 2013, a delegation of the Information Systems Authority was in Lisbon for a visit. They met with partners at the Portuguese Agency for the Modernization of Public Administration to speak about e-states and opportunities to exchange experiences.

In May of 2014, the Estonian Embassy in Lisbon, in cooperation with the airline TAP Portugal and Enterprise Estonia in Lisbon organised a seminar introducing Estonia as a tourism destination.


Trade between Estonia and Portugal has grown in the last few years. If in 2010 trade turnover was 12.7 million euros, then in 2016 it was 23,1 million euros (0.1% of Estonia's total turnover); the increase includes both exports and imports. In 2016, trade balance was for the first time after 2010 positive in Estonia (+0.5 million euros).

In 2012, Portugal was Estonia's 49th trade partner, 50th in 2013, 44th in 2014 and 45th in 2016.

Trade from 2010-2017 (millions EUR):

  Export Import
2010 6.4 6.3
2011 7.1
2012 8.6
2013 9.1
2014 10.8
2015 10.3
2016 11.8
2017 (5 months)

Main export articles in 2016:

  • Wood and wood products – 19.8%
  • Paper pulp and paper products - 14.2%
  • Machinery and equipment – 12.5%
  • Mineral products – 5.4%

Main export articles in 2017 (5 months):

  • Wood and wood products – 36.4%
  • Mineral products - 35.2%
  • Machinery and equipment – 12.5%

Main import articles in 2016:

  • Textiles and textile products – 17.2%
  • Plastics – 13.4%
  • Metals and metal products – 13.3%
  • Paper pulp and paper products – 11%

Main import articles in 2017 (5 months):

  • Machinery and equipment – 14.3%
  • Plastics – 14.2%
  • Metals and metal products – 12.5%
  • Textiles and textile products – 10%
  • Paper pulp and paper products – 9.1%


According to Bank of Estonia data, as of 31.12.2015 Portuguese direct investments ranked as – (minus) 9.1 million euros in Estonia. Investments had been made in many different sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage sector, the information and communications sector, financial and insurance activities, real estate, professional, scientific and technical activities.

As of April, 2015, there were 13 Portuguese-owned the Estonian Commercial Register.

At the same time, the total value of Estonia's direct investments in Portugal was 2.9 million euros. Investments have been made in manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.


The number of tourists from Portugal visiting Estonia has grown from year to year and Portugal is also becoming more popular as a destination for Estonians. Like most other Southern European tourists, the Portuguese usually visit Estonia in the summertime as part of a tour that visits several neighbouring countries as well. Most Portuguese tourists only visit Tallinn.

Portugal has become increasingly more popular as a summer vacation spot for Estonian tourists, but Portugal still has much more unrealised potential as a spa or tour destination for Estonians considering its reasonable prices, interesting sights, and friendly citizens that are able to speak English. During the past few years the number of tourists has been positively affected by charter trips that are organised in the summertime from Tallinn to Algarve in southern Portugal.

Education and culture

On 12 May 2003, Estonia and Portugal signed an agreement for co-operation in the fields of language, education, culture, science, technology, youth projects, sports and media. It took effect on 15 December 2005.

Portuguese language instruction takes place in Estonia and there are two Portuguese language centres—one at Tartu University and the other at Tallinn University. This is thanks to a co-operation agreement signed between Camões Institute and Tallinn and Tartu Universities in 2006. According to the agreement, the Camões Institute will cover all expenses for teachers and materials, and each of the Estonian universities will receive one scholarship to send a student to Portugal to learn the language.


Many art exhibits have taken place.

In September 2007 an exhibit of Jüri Arrak’s paintings in the monastery Convento des Cardaes took place, and that same year an exhibit of Tanel Veenre’s jewellery was displayed at the Funchal City Theatre on the island of Madeira. In 2008 an exhibition of Valli Lember-Bogatkina’s watercolours was seen in the Lisbon Water Museum and in 2009 the joint exhibit of six Estonian artists “Moss and Lichen” was exhibited in Coimbra. In 2010 events included Markus Kasemaa’s personal exhibit “Figures” in the Azores, an exhibit of paintings by Imat Suuman entitled “Estonian Landscape” in Lisbon, and an exhibit of the works of Estonian glass artists Tiina and Maret Sarapuu also in Lisbon. In January of 2011, the exhibit “Tallinn: Colours, Textures, Emotions” was opened, and in June an exhibit of Markus Kasemaa’s digital prints on canvas was opened at the Camões Institute in Lisbon. The jewellery art project “Border City” was realised in Tallinn, when the works of 17 Estonian and 17 Portuguese artists were displayed in the Tallinn City Gallery. At the beginning of 2012, the “Border City” project continued in Lisbon when the exhibit was opened on 16 February 2012 in the Camões Institute. In November of 2012, the joint Portuguese-Polish-Estonian performance art project “Cosmic Underground” took place, where Estonia was represented by Raoul Kurwitz and Flo Kasearu. In May of 2013, Estonian Ambassador Marin Mõttus opened the exhibit “Estonia as a Maritime Country: Estonian Lighthouses” in Ponta Delgada in the Azores. The easternmost lighthouse in the EU is located in Narva-Jõesuu in Estonia and the westernmost is the Albernaz lighthouse in the Azores.


Estonian musicians have also presented their talents in Portugal, both in independent concerts and in the framework of larger events. In 2007, Hedvig Hanson and Andre Maaker gave 2 concerts (in Lisbon and Abrantes) and the Estonian Defence Forces Mixed Choir performed in Lisbon. In 2008, a concert by the ETV Girls’ Choir took place in the main hall of Lisbon University to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The Helin-Mari Arder Trio gave concerts in Lisbon and Tavira in 2009, and the folk music duo RO:TORO gave a concert in Fundão in 2010. Concerts by the Arsis Handbell Ensemble in Guimarães (European Capital of Culture 2012) and Lisbon in February of 2011 were very successful.

In April 2012 the Estonian vocal ensemble -7 (Minus Seven) performed at the Palacio Foz concert hall in the heart of Lisbon. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir gave three concerts in Lisbon during a festival at the Belem Cultural Centre called “A voz humana – o canto atraves dos tempos”. On 19 May the choir also performed in the church of Villa de Fradese in southern Portugal within the framework of the Alentejo religious music festival. In October 2012 the dance ensemble “Kuljus” performed at Santarem’s folk dance festival and in March 2013, Mari Kalkun gave two performances in Lisbon – one at the Palacio Fozi and another at the Fabricia Braco de Prata cultural centre.


At the Estoril International Film Festival held in November 2007, Veiko Õunpuu’s film “Sügisball” (“Autumn Ball”) won the jury’s special award. The formal premier of “Autumn Ball” in Portugal took place in July 2008. The film remained in the theatre for six weeks. During the Estoril film festival in November 2008, entitled “Temps d’Images”, Kersti Uibo’s documentary “Vaikelu naisega” (“Still Life with Wife”) was recognised.


The only works of Estonian literature translated into Portuguese to date are "The Czar’s Madman" by Jaan Kross, of which two editions have been published (1992 and 1993), and Eduard Vilde’s "The Milkman of Mäeküla" (2004).

From Portuguese literature, "The Relic" by Eça de Queiroz and "Autopsychography" by Fernando Pessoa have been translated into Estonian by Ain Kaalep, along with "Sunday Afternoon" by Fernando Namora and the set of short stories "The Sword of Tupariz" by Vitorio Kali. In 2007 José Saramago’s “Darkness” was published (translated into Estonian by Mare Vega Salamanca). In 2010 Fernando Pessoa’s selection of poems “Tobacco Shop” was published in Estonia, translated by Tõnu Õnnepalu.

In 2007, the publisher TEA published a small Estonian-Portuguese, Portuguese-Estonian dictionary. In 2011, the Estonian-language translation by Leenu Nigu of Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa’s novel “O Vendedor de Passados” (Estonian: “Minevikkude müüja”), originally written in Portuguese, was published.

In November of 2011, a special performance of Sofi Oksanen’s “Purge” took place at the Teatro Alberto in Lisbon. The show was preceded by a reception hosted by the Estonian and Finnish embassies, which was attended by Oksanen, and a roundtable on the themes in the work. On 16 November the Portuguese-language version of “Purge” was unveiled.

On May of 2012, a Kristina Ehin poetry night took place in the evangelical Presbyterian church in Lisbon (the poems were translated by Eva Toulouse, who is of French, Italian and Portuguese descent, and the Portuguese-language poems were read aloud by actor Joao d’Avila). On 23 May a night of Kristiina Ehin’s poetry and Silver Sepp’s original musical instruments called “Through Thousands of Falls and Winters” took place at the Fernando Pessoa House Museum in Lisbon.


In December 2002, the culturally oriented Lisbon Estonian Society was established.

In the summer of 2004, a friendship and co-operation development agreement was signed between Haapsalu and the central Portuguese city of Fundão (population 10 000), which despite its ancient appearance gained city status only in 1988. On 7 May 2005, Mayor of Haapsalu Teet Kallasvee and Mayor of Fundão Manuel Joaquin Frexes unveiled the new Haapsalu Street in Fundão. It is in the more modern part of town and curves around the new courthouse.

In October 2007, an Estonian gastronomic week took place at the Lisbon Sheraton, during which Estonian dishes were prepared by master chefs Tõnis Siigur and Raul Tee.

In December 2008, the Estonian Embassy in Lisbon introduced Estonian Christmas traditions during the Christmas event “O Natal na Europa”. Within the framework of the event, two concert were given by folk music duo RO:TORO.

Over the past few years the nationwide garbage cleanup initiative “Limpar Portugal”, or “Clean up Portugal”, has taken place. The campaign has earned widespread media coverage, and a lot of attention is given to the fact that the idea for the initiative originated in Estonia.

In May 2012, Kaia Kanepi triumphed at the Estoril Open tennis tournament.

On 8 June 2016 the Portugal-Estonia friendly match in football will take place in Lisbon at the Estádio da Luz. Estonia and Portugal have faced each other seven times, including six times in the European Championship qualification round. The last time they played was in 2009, at the A. Le Coq Arena, when Mart Poom's farewell match ended in a 0:0 draw.




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