State visit to Estonia – day 3
On 2–4 May, Their Majesties The King and Queen carried out a three-day state visit to the Republic of Estonia at the invitation of HE President Alar Karis, who received Their Majesties together with Mrs Sirje Karis. The Swedish Government was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström, Minister for Defence Pål Jonson and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell. Around 25 Swedish businesses also took part in the programme.
The aim of the state visit was to deepen the excellent relations between Estonia and Sweden, including their relations within the EU where the two countries agree on many issues.
Tartu Town Hall Square
The final day of the state visit began with The King and Queen, Minister for Foreign Affairs Billström and the Presidential couple travelling to Tartu by train. At Tartu Town Hall Square, they were welcomed by Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas. They then walked to the University of Tartu.
The University of Tartu
At the University of Tartu, where President Karis was formerly Rector, The King and Queen, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Presidential couple met representatives of the City of Tartu.
The University of Tartu is the second oldest university to have been founded by Sweden, after Uppsala University. It was founded by King Gustav II Adolf in 1632. Many famous researchers have worked here, including several from Sweden. The departments include the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies and the Department of Scandinavian Studies.
Monument to Gustav II Adolf
From the University of Tartu, The King and Queen, Minister for Foreign Affairs Billström, the Presidential couple and Rector Toomas Asser walked to the Monument to Gustav II Adolf.
The Delta Centre
In the afternoon, The King, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the President visited the Delta Centre at the University of Tartu. This is a modern centre for digital technology and analytical and economic thinking, and brings together students, researchers and innovator within fields such as IT, robotics, technology, mathematics, economics and business management.
Dr Kristjan Vassil, Vice Rector for Research, welcomed the visitors and gave an introduction to the work carried out at the centre. There then followed visits to stations presenting research within areas such as intelligent materials, computer graphics and virtual reality, biobanks and digital control, cyber security and public health innovations. Here, they also met those members of the business delegation who were continuing to hold meetings in Tartu.
The Estonian University of Life Sciences Forestry Building
The King, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the President visited the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The work and development activities carried out here focus on the sustainable development of natural resources and the preservation of heritage and living environments. Rector Ülle Jaakma welcomed the visitors and presented the work of the university.
After planting a tree in Dendro Park, they visited the plant physiology laboratory. There, Professor Ülo Niinemets described his research which includes looking at how plants interact with and affect their environment, and how they acclimatise to different stresses.
The Eesti Agrenska Foundation
The Queen and Mrs Karis visited the Eesti Agrenska Foundation in Tammistu. This is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation that was established in 2003. Its overall aim is to develop services for children and teenagers with rare diagnoses and disabilities in order to improve their quality of life, integration and equal opportunities, both for them and for their families. Its operations are similar to those carried out by Sweden's Ågrenska Centre. The Queen and Mrs Karis had the opportunity to speak with representatives of Eesti Agrenska's board, and were also given a tour.
The Estonian National Museum
The afternoon's programme concluded with a visit to the Estonian National Museum, where they were welcomed by the museum's director, Dr Kertu Saks. President Karis, who was the museum's director from 2018 until 2021, presented highlights from the museum's collections.
The museum was founded in Tartu in 1909 with the aim of protecting and developing Estonia's history and culture. One of the permanent exhibitions is 'Encounters', which covers Estonia's prehistory and history in detail, with a particular focus on the Soviet occupation. The museum is built on a former Soviet runway.
The state visit ended with a departure ceremony outside the Estonian National Museum, where the Presidential couple wished The King and Queen farewell.
A state visit is the highest form of visit between two countries, and involves two heads of state meeting in a ceremonial form to strengthen relations between the two countries.
State visits aim to lay the foundations for strong personal contact and greater political, trade and cultural exchanges between the countries. Government ministers and a business delegation also take part in state visits.