Estonian-Belgian Diplomatic Relations 100

We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Belgium in 2021. Belgium recognised the Republic of Estonia as a Member of the Supreme Council of the Allies de jure on 26 January 1921, which laid the bases for formal diplomatic contacts.

We have prepared a timeline of the relationship between Estonia and Belgium for the jubilee. This is a chronological gallery of historical photos, documents and texts, which gives an overview of the unique and important moments in the relationship between the two countries over a period of 100 years.

To see the photo titles, move the cursor to the photo. 

We thank everyone who has contributed to the collection of facts, photos and documents!

Enjoy the journey through time!

Estonian Embassy in Belgium
Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

24 February 1918
The Republic of Estonia was declared independent Eesti iseseisvusmanifesti avalik ettelugemine Pärnu Endla teatri rõdult. (Foto: Pärnu Muuseumi kogu)
The Estonian Declaration of Independence was prepared on the initiative of the Salvation Committee and read out to the public from the balcony of the Endla Theatre in Pärnu on 23 February 1918. The next day, on 24 February 1918, the Salvation Committee declared Estonia an independent democratic republic.
11 November 1918
World War I ended Young Estonian military courier 1918. Photo: Estonian National Archives
The most important result of the World War for Estonians and many other nations in Eastern Europe was the collapse of empires, which made it possible to create new nation countries.
18 January 1919
A peace conference convened after World War I took place in Paris and was attended by the Estonian delegation, led by Jaan Poska, as an observer. Peace conference in Paris. Photo: Archives MFA France
The peace conference was attended by the Estonian delegation, led by Jaan Poska, as an observer. The War of Independence was ongoing in Estonia at the same time. The peace conference was held from 18 January 1919 to 21 January 1920. The goal of the Estonians was to protect Estonian interests and to obtain support and recognition in Paris.
2 February 1920
The peace treaty between the Republic of Estonia and Soviet Russia was signed in Tartu after difficult negotiations Tartu rahulepingu allkirjad. Foto: Rahvusarhiiv
The treaty marked the end of the War of Independence in Estonia, which had lasted for about a year and a half, and was the first major achievement in the foreign relations of the young Estonian state. The eastern border of Estonia was determined in the treaty and Soviet Russia recognised the independence of the Republic of Estonia for all time.It also opened the road to international recognition as an independent state for Estonia.
7 June 1920
Belgium recognised the Republic of Estonia de facto
3 December 1920
Belgian government appointed Michel Nicaise as the consul to Estonia Michel Nicaise 1920
Although Belgium had not yet recognised Estonia de jure, the Belgian government appointed Michel Nicaise, who knew the circumstances in Russia well, as the consul to Estonia. Nicaise worked as the Belgian consul for 20 years, i.e. until 1940, when the USSR occupied Estonia. After that, he went to work in the Embassy of Belgium in Stockholm.
The Waba Maa newspaper wrote on 3 December 1935: M. Nicaise has represented his home country here for all these years, contributing to the emergence and growth of friendly relations between Estonia and Belgium. As a friend of Estonia, he has worked hard to bring Estonia and Belgium closer culturally and economically. He is the author of most of the writings about Estonia published in the Belgian press. The Estonian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce and the Belgian-Estonian Chamber of Commerce in Brussels were established on his initiative.
26 January 1921
Belgium recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure alongside France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy
1 October 1921
Estonia opened an honorary consulate in Antwerp
The consul was Charles A. Aertssens, who held the position until 1929. Estonia also opened honorary consulates in Brussels and Geneva in 1926 and in Ostend in 1931. Liège was also the location of an honorary consulate.
15 June 1922
The first Belgian ambassador to Estonia, Bernand l’Escaille de Lier, who presented his credentials to the head of state, resided in Warsaw
14 December 1923
The first Estonian ambassador Karl Robert Pusta, who had been the first chargé d’affaires for Estonia in Belgium since 1921, was appointed to office
Pusta presented his credentials to Albert I, King of the Belgians, on 16 April 1924. He resided in Paris and remained in office until 1932. Estonia was represented in Belgium from the Estonian Embassy in Paris during the entire period between the two world wars.

29 April 1925
Estonia gave the Cross of Liberty VR I/1 to Albert I, King of the Belgians Belgia kuningas Albert I
The Cross of Liberty was presented to the King by Ambassador Karl Robert Pusta on 8 August 1925.
28 September 1926
The economic union of Estonia and Belgium-Luxembourg entered into a trade and shipping agreement
Several other important agreements are entered into in the same year and the next: the declaration of mutual recognition of Estonian-Belgian tonnage certificates on 28 September 1926; Estonian-Belgian agreement on extradition of offenders on 11 November 1926; Estonian-Belgian Consular Convention on 8 February 1927.
5 January 1929
The second Belgian Ambassador to Estonia, Florent de Selys-Fanson Eesti Vabariigi riigivanemale 5.01.1929. Vasakult: välisministeeriumi poliitikaosakonna juhataja Johan Leppik, saadik Florent de Selys Fanson, riigivanem August Rei, välisminister Jaan Lattik, riigivanema adjutant leitnant August Schiller (Siller). Foto: Rahvusarhiiv
The second Belgian Ambassador to Estonia, Florent de Selys-Fanson, who presented his credentials to the head of state, resided in Riga and had been chargé d’affaires ad interim in Estonia since 1927.
1930
The Estonian Society in Belgium Management Board of the Estonian Society in Belgium. Sitting in the first row from the left: Vice-Chairman A. Pelmas, Treasurer H. Pelmas, Chairman A. Tali, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Society to Antwerp O. Gutman. Standing from the left: Assistant Secretary A. Lövend and Secretary J. Krusten. Photo: National Archives
A large number of Estonians ended up in Belgium after World War II, but some Estonians had settled there earlier and established the Estonian Society in Brussels, which was later renamed the Estonian Society in Belgium, at the Consulate of the Republic of Estonia in Brussels in 1930. The Estonian Society in Belgium is still working today.
1 January 1933
The second Estonian Ambassador to Belgium, Otto Strandman, was appointed to office
Strandman presented his credentials to the King of the Belgians on 16 September 1933. He resided in Paris and remained in office until 1 October 1939.
5 June 1934
The extraordinary mission of the King of the Belgians, led by Senator de Savoye, arrived in Tallinn Pidulik vastuvõtt belglaste kuninga erakorralise suursaadiku senaator de Savoye’ auks Kadrioru lossis 5. juuni 1934. Foto: Rahvusarhiiv
The senator’s task was to inform the head of state about the death of King Albert and of the ascension of King Leopold III.

29 September 1935
The Estonian department was opened in the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels
It was opened by Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia Otto Strandman. The items handed over at the time are still exhibited in the museum: badges and decorations, three sets of clothes and photos which have since been digitalised.
1935
Items in the exhibition on the Estonian War of Independence sent to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels Osa Brüsselisse sõjamuuseumisse saadetavatest Eesti Vabadussõda käsitleva ekspositsiooni esemetest. Foto: Rahvusarhiiv
The same items are still exhibited in the museum today. See the photo below:

Exhibition 2021. Photo: Embassy of Estonia in Belgium

April-November 1935
The first time Estonia participated in the World Expo with its own exhibition 1935 maailmanäituse eesti osakond. Foto: Rahvusarhiiv
The first time Estonia participated in the World Expo with its own exhibition was in Brussels (in 1933, Estonia participated as a part of the Greek pavilion). Estonia didn’t set up a pavilion of its own this time either, as it would have been too costly, but participated with a special department in the hall of departments of trade. The purpose of participation was to introduce Estonian goods and handicrafts, thereby boosting trade between Belgium and Estonia. It was also important to show Estonia as a good tourism destination and pictures, diagrams, films and even a map with light effects were used for this purpose.
14 May 1938
An exhibition of modern Belgian art
An exhibition of modern Belgian art with fifty pieces donated by Belgian artists was opened in Tallinn and the artworks were later used to create the collection of modern Belgian art in the Estonian Museum of Art.
23 August 1939
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact The map of the MRP with signatures. Photo: National Archives
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed in Moscow and it included a secret protocol, which divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the USSR and paved the way to the occupation and annexation of Estonia.
21 June 1940
The coup d’etat was carried out in Estonia with the support of the Red Army
The incorporation of the Republic of Estonia into the Soviet Union began. The government of the Estonian SSR decided to eliminate all embassies, consulates and honorary consulates of Estonia and hand their assets over to the local representations of the USSR. All foreign ambassadors in Estonia were ordered to leave by 25 August.
Belgium did not recognise the Soviet annexation of Estonia.
2 November 1953
In 1952 Karl Robert Pusta returned from the US to Europe and was the diplomatic representative of Estonia to Belgium Pusta 1956. aastal, Rahvusarhiiv, Harald Perten
In 1952 Karl Robert Pusta returned from the US to Europe and was the diplomatic representative of Estonia to Belgium, Spain and France, residing in Madrid, from 2 November 1953 until his death in 1964.
1957
The Treaty of Rome
The Treaty of Rome, which brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) or the common market, which laid the foundation for the establishment of the European Union, was signed. The six founding members of the Community also included Belgium (the other countries were Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and Germany).
24 February 1968
Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in Brussels Eesti Vabariigi 50. sünnipäeva tähistamine Brüsselis. Foto: Rahvusarhiiv
Although the Estonian state had been wiped off the world map, the spirit of the Republic of Estonia remained alive among the Brussels Estonians from 1940–1991 and was expressed, among others, with celebrations of the anniversaries of the Republic of Estonia.
1988-1989
The Singing Revolution in Estonia and the other Baltic States in 1988 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 brought extensive international support 23. augustil 1989 loodi MRP 50. aastapäeval kolme Balti riiki läbiv pikk inimkett, kus inimesed ühendasid oma käed, et juhtida tähelepanu Balti riikide olukorrale. Foto: Harald Leppikson, Rahvusarhiiv
A long human chain that passed through all three Baltic States where people held hands to draw attention to the situation in the Baltic States was created on the 50th anniversary of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1989.
20 August 1991
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia accepted the resolution on the national independence of Estonia
The Republic of Estonia was restored on the basis of legal continuity.
27 August 1991
Belgium recognised the independence of the Republic of Estonia again Vastuvõtul Eesti Vabariigi Ülemnõukogu esimehe Arnold Rüütli juures.. Foto:  Rahvusarhiiv
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Helsinki Jacques Ivan D’Hondt visited Estonia on 28 August 1991 to announce this. Diplomatic relations were restored on 5 September 1991.
22 October 1991
Visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Mark Eyskens to Estonia Belgia välisminister Mark Eyskens (paremalt 1.) Eesti välisministri Lennart Meri (vasakult 1.) juures vastuvõtul. Vasakult 2. Eesti suursaadik Belgias Clyde Kull
Mark Eyskens met with the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lennart Meri, Chairman of the Supreme Council Arnold Rüütel and others.
14 October 1991
Belgian Chargé d’affaires Jan Mutton, who was the first representative of Belgium to Estonia after the restoration of independence, assumed office Belgia asjur Jan Mutton üle andmas volikirju välisministeeriumis. Paremal protokolliülem Kalle Ott, vasakul poliitikaosakonna Lääne-Euroopa büroo juhataja Andres Tomasberg Foto: välisministeeriumi arhiiv
25 June 1992
Belgian Ambassador Jacques Ivan D’Hond presented his credentials Belgia suursaadik Jacques Ivan D’Hond andmas üle volikirju Eesti Vabariigi Ülemnõukogu esimehele Arnold Rüütlile. Vasakul protokolliülem Kalle Ott, paremal välisminister Trivimi Velliste.
He was in office until 1994 and resided in Helsinki.

See the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs for subsequent ambassadors.

1992
The Representation of Estonia to Belgium was opened and the Estonian ambassador Clyde Kull was appointed to office Clyde Kull volikirjade üleandmisel
He presented his credentials to the King of the Belgians on 6 February 1992. Clyde Kull held the office until 1996. The bilateral ambassador in Brussels also represented Estonia in NATO and the European Union until 1996.

Jüri Luik was the Ambassador of Estonia to Belgium from 1996–1999, followed by Sulev Kannike (1999–2003).

See the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs for subsequent ambassadors.

24 February 1993
A two-storey white villa on Avenue Isidore Gerald in a suburb of Brussels was bought for the embassy in 1992
The opening party of the embassy was held on 24 February 1993 and the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia was also celebrated in Brussels for the first time.

Read more on the website of the Embassy of Estonia in Brussels.

13-14 December 1994
Visit to Estonia by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Frank Vandenbroucke
Meeting of Frank Vandenbroucke, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jüri Luik
4 March 1996
A cooperation agreement between the governments of Estonia and Flanders was signed
A cooperation programme for the period of 2019–2022 has been established for the implementation of the agreement. The cooperation programme makes it possible to expand cooperation in various fields, including the economy, science, technology, culture, education and social policy.
9 June 1999
The mutual visa waiver agreement between Estonia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg was signed in the Green Hall of the Egmont Palace in Brussels
The agreement was signed by Chargé d’affaires ad Interim of the Estonian Embassy Andres Talvik on behalf of Estonia, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jan Bogaert on behalf of the Kingdom of Belgium, Ambassador Jean-Jacques Kasel on behalf of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Ambassador Eduard Röell on behalf of the Netherlands.
September-December 2001
Estonian culture was introduced in Belgium
Estonian culture was introduced in Belgium with exhibitions in Flanders and Brussels from September to December. Belgium is the first country where a cultural attaché appointed by the Ministry of Culture started working in the Estonian Embassy. Today, Estonia has cultural attachés in seven countries.
14 December 2001
A cooperation agreement was signed between the Government of the Republic of Estonia, the French Community of Belgium and Wallonia
The mutual cooperation framework, which helps implement the agreement, was signed in September 2019 between the Republic of Estonia and Wallonia-Brussels and it covers various areas of cooperation including culture, language training and education, the economy and the environment.
8 October 2003
Estonia appointed a separate ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Luxembourg Malle Talvet andis oma volikirja belglaste kuningale üle 8. oktoobril 2003. aastal ja jäi ametisse kuni aastani 2008.
The bilateral relations between Estonia and Belgium started getting closer in 2003, because Estonia appointed a separate ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Luxembourg.

Malle Talvet presented her credentials to the King of the Belgians on 8 October 2003 and remained in office until 2008. Karin Jaani was the Estonian Ambassador to Belgium from August 2008 to October 2009. Mariin Ratnik was the Estonian Ambassador to Belgium from July 2010 to September 2011. Gert Antsu was the Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland from 2012–2016. Lembit Uibo, the Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the Kingdom of Belgium, presented his credentials to Philippe, the King of the Belgians, in May 2017. Toomas Tirs has been the Estonian Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg since 2018.

29 March 2004
Estonia became a member of NATO Eesti lipu heiskamine NATO peakorteris Brüsselis
Until 1997, the permanent representation of Estonia to NATO had been located in a small suburban villa in Brussels with the bilateral embassy and representation to the EU.
Jüri Luik, who was officially accredited to Benelux, became the Ambassador in autumn 1996. Once the ambassadors of partner states also became members of the EAPC after the adoption of the NATO EAPC concept in May 1997, Jüri Luik became the first Estonian Ambassador to NATO.
1 May 2004
Estonia became a member of the European Union
Until 1996, the permanent representation of Estonia to the European Union was located in a small suburban villa in Brussels with the bilateral embassy and representation to NATO. In early autumn 1996, the permanent representation of Estonia to the European Union moved to the European Quarter, where it is located to this day.
2004
Belgium became the first NATO country to participate in the NATO air security mission and guards the airspace of the Baltic States
7 February 2005
The Belgian Embassy was opened in Tallinn at Rataskaevu 2 Belgia saatkond asus aadressil Rataskaevu 2 kuni Belgia sulges 28. veebruaril 2015 saatkonna Tallinnas. Eestit hakati katma Helsingist.
The embassy was opened by the Belgian State Secretary for European Affairs Didier Donfut. The ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium resided in Helsinki until autumn 2020, but the new ambassador Pierre Dubuisson, who presented his credential on 21 October 2004, started working in Tallinn.
20 December 2006
Working visit of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves to Belgium. Meeting with Albert II, King of the Belgians Kohtumine belglaste kuninga Albert II-ga.

See the preceding and subsequent visits on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

21 December 2007
Estonia joined the Schengen Area
Estonia joined the Schengen Area, which also meant that there was no need for border controls between Estonia and Belgium any longer
10–12 June 2008
State visit by Albert II, King of the Belgians, and Queen Paola to Estonia
The head of state was hosted by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.

See the preceding and subsequent visits on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

28 February 2015
Belgium started covering Estonia from Helsinki Belgia Suursaatkond Helsingis
Philippe Beke became the ambassador on 19 November 2015 and remained in office until 20 September 2003. Carl Peeters stepped into the office of ambassador at the end of the year.
2017–2018
The cultural programme Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia
The cultural programme of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2017 and the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in 2018 were parts of the biggest Estonian cultural festival in Belgium so far. Over 30 Estonian cultural projects in total reached audiences in Belgium. The most important cooperation partners were the BOZAR and Flagey cultural centres and a cooperation agreement between Flagey and the Arvo Pärt Centre was signed within the scope of the Arvo Pärt Festival in January 2018.
2017–2018
The mysterious Estonian street artist Edward von Lõngus breathed life into pictures of old Estonians on many walls in Brussels 2018 von Lõngus Brüsselis. Foto: EV100
The art project, which marked the EU Presidency and the 100th anniversary of Estonia, took the art of Lõngus to ten other European capitals in addition to Brussels.
The walls and houses in many unexpected corners around the Town Hall Square of Brussels were given a new look. These works of art can still be seen there.
21 February 2019
Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel meets with the Belgian unit of the NATO battlegroup serving in Estonia
The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik.
2 April 2019
Visit of Philippe, King of the Belgians, and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to Estonia Belglaste kuninga Philippe’i ja välisministri Didier Reyndersi visiit Eestisse, kohtumine Belgia sõduritega Tapal NATO missiooni raames.
Visit of Philippe, King of the Belgians, and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to Estonia, meeting with Belgian soldiers within the scope of the NATO mission in Tapa.
2021
Present moment 2021
Toomas Tirs is the Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The embassy is located in the same building as the permanent representation of the Republic of Estonia to the European Union at Rue Guimard 11/13, Brussels, Belgium.

Estonia has two honorary consuls in Belgium: Antoine Vuylsteke and Alain van Bellingen (mandate ends in June 2021). Carl Peeters, the Ambassador of Belgium to Estonia, resides in Helsinki.

Belgium has one honorary consul in Estonia – Erik Sakkov (since 2017).
2021
Estonia and Belgium celebrate their 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations