Italy as a member of the Supreme War Council recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure on 26 January 1921.
For the anniversary year, we have compiled a timeline of Estonian–Italian relations. It is a chronological gallery of historical photographs, documents, and texts, which provides an overview of the important moments of the relations between the two countries over 100 years.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the collection of facts, photos, and documents!
To see the photo titles, hold your cursor over the photo.
Happy time travelling!
Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassy of Estonia in Italy
The letter reads, ‘The Italian government, in accordance with Italian traditions, is pleased to express its strong sympathy for the independence of the Estonian people. Italy initially recognises the Estonian Riiginõukogu as an independent organisation, but leaves the recognition of an independent Estonian state as a right of the Peace Congress.’
The letter reads, ‘I have the honour to confirm receipt of your letter No. 7276 of the 3rd of this month and to inform you that the Italian consular agency is located at 1 Karja Street.
The residence of Mr. Paul Scheel, the consular agent, who is currently abroad, is located at 21 Suur Rosenkrantsi Street.
I have the honour to inform you that the following persons work at the consulate:
Mr Klaus Scheel, chargé d’affaires
Mrs G. Stillmark
Miss K. Gebauer
Italian consular agent a. i.’
Karl Tofer was the ambassador to Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania at the same time, which meant constant travelling. The Deputy Secretary General of the embassy was David Janson, who started working at the embassy in 1927 and remained in office until the occupation of Estonia and the liquidation of the embassy in 1940. In 1951, Janson moved from Germany to the United States. He died in New York in 1955.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Estonian–Italian Academic Association held its first regular general meeting. The association was founded last year and its task is to acquaint Estonia with the achievements of Italian science, culture, and literature. The activity report submitted by Professor E. Ein, the chairman of the association, revealed that so far the activity of the association has been hindered by various external factors which are expected to be overcome in the coming year. The Italian Ministry of Education has promised a grant of 4,000 lira, or 774 kroons in Estonian money to the association.
Professor Ein and Professor A Volpicelli, Professor of Italian Language and Literature, explained the action plan of the association.
The board consists of seven members: Professor E. Ein, Professor W. Auderson, Professor ?l. Volpicelli, Professor J. Nilbelt, MA student M. Nurk, student T. Turwiste, and Mrs Sarni. The other candidates were: Miss Frep and Mrs Piiper. The Review Committee consists of Mrs Triik and Mr R. Ränk
The Institute of Culture aims to strengthen Estonian–Italian relations and to introduce Italian culture in Estonia.
Italy’s Institute of Culture has been operating in Tallinn for two months, headed by the lecturer of Italian at the University of Tartu and the Tallinn Institute of Technology, Dr A. Volpicelli. The institute gives lectures on the Italian language and culture. These lectures have proved out to be very popular in Tallinn: every evening, the rooms are filled with guests looking to find out more about Italy. Lectures are given in Italian, French, German, and English. Rumour has it that Dr. A Volpicelli has started learning Estonian.
…. He spent the first six months adjusting and preparing. University professors, students, and other members established an Estonian–Italian academic association in Tartu. Cultural ideas are quick to spread in the university town. The Institute of Technology in Tallinn started teaching Italian only this year and the interest of locals in humanitarian culture is especially noteworthy because they usually study technical sciences there. The Institute of Culture was founded on the initiative of locals interested in Italy. 498 people signed the proposal to establish the institute. The institute does not pursue simple school principles, but has higher goals: to improve knowledge of art, literature, and history, and to provide a good Italian-language library to the people.
Yesterday, the opening of an exhibition of Italian landscape paintings took place in the Art Hall with a large number of guests. Minister of Education Colonel A. Jaakson and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Fr. Akel, foreign representatives, and a large number of cultural figures, artists, writers, and journalists attended the event.
The opening speech of the exhibition was given by the Italian Ambassador V. Cicconardi. He first expressed his respect to the state protector K. Päts and his government ‘who, with friendship and cordiality, have facilitated and promoted the establishment of cultural and spiritual relations between the two countries’.
The Minister continued, ‘Landscape painting is the youngest daughter in the family of arts. Although loved by the audience, landscape painting has long been considered an unwanted intruder by the other arts. Such a reception is unfair, because landscape painting, when it rises to the height of a work of art, derives its beauty from the divine beauty of nature. The Italians were the first to realise that landscape paintings must not show reality. Instead, landscape painting must express some feeling, joy, pain, sadness. It must evoke a moral impression in us through an optical impression, forcing us to think. This exhibition aims at setting a direction rather than being final and perfect; it just wants to draw attention to the achievements and tendencies of modern Italy.’ The Minister of Education A. Jaakson spoke after the ambassador, noting in praise and appreciation the care and efforts of the Italian Ambassador Cicconardi to intensify the cultural relationship between the two countries, as evidenced by this exhibition. The exhibition will be open until 6 April.
The report of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs (8 August 1940) states,
‘At 6.30 p.m., the Minister (Ambassador) of the Estonian embassy arrived, who informed that at 4.30 p.m., two officials of the Russian embassy introduced themselves to him and demanded that the embassy be handed over. They said that if he refused, they would come back at 10 a.m. the next day to take over the embassy. The Estonian Ambassador, considering that Italy recognises his country and, on the other hand, Italy does not recognise the annexation of the Baltic states by the USSR, asks whether he must submit to the threats or continue to resist. He also asks if an armed escort could be made available to him.’
After the liquidation of the embassy (handed over to the mission of the USSR), Johann Leppik remained in Rome. He served as a military doctor in the corps of General W. Anders of Poland in Italy from 1943 to 1946. In 1947, he moved to Sweden, where he lived until his death in 1965.
The activities of the Dante Alighieri Society, which was first founded in Estonia in 1988, subsided, and the society was re-established in Estonia in 1999. Among the members of the society were people in different fields from all over Estonia who were united by their interest in the Italian language and culture. The society organised language courses and cooking and film evenings, as well as lectures on literature. Today, its initially vigorous activities have subsided and await the enthusiasm of a new generation of Italophiles.
The joint declaration states, ‘The Government of the Italian Republic and the Government of the Republic of Estonia have today agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, which were severed in 1940 when Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union, which Italy has never recognised…’
During the state visit, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Patrizia Toia signed a co-operation agreement between the Estonian and Italian governments in the field of culture, education, science, and technology. The establishment of the agreement boosted cultural exchange and provided the necessary framework for educational cooperation. For example, Estonia and Italy mutually allocated scholarships that allowed Estonian students to study at Italian universities and Italian students to get to know Estonian language and culture.
Estonian honorary consuls in Italy after the restoration of independence:
Read more about the association: www.italiaestonia.org
From 10 October 2017 to 28 January 2018 a solo exhibition of Konrad Mägi was open at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Italian National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art). It was opened on 9 October 2018 by President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid.