Ify Agboola invited by RSR: British-Estonia relations

“The skill of diplomacy and negotiation is a life skill.” Estonia on a global stage: Estonian Size as One of Its Superpowers - little corruption: smaller systems are easier to manage.

About the lecturer

  • The British ambassador in Tallinn 
  • COO of the Embassy (counselling: how is the embassy running?)
  • Commonwealth & Development Office
  • Studied International Relations but ambassadors come from very different backgrounds: theology, physics, etc
  • Diplomatic service requires diverse skills from different fields: foreign affairs, climate policy, regulatory policy (at first you have no idea what you are doing)

The UK relationship with Estonia from a perspective of conflict/dispute/cooperation

Before you start anything in life, it is important to make sure your values are clear

  • At one point the values of an organisation may be in conflict with yours (not a place for you then)

Uk and Estonia have a long history of good relations

  • Military cooperation &  security defence relations
  • British navy in the first independence of Estonia
  • Military troops in Estonia today: the biggest overseas (changing every 6 months)
  • NATO

We`re not just about the army

We`re here how Estonia / Baltics / Eastern Europe / NATO

  • Big access in Estonia
  • Huge interest from London (headquarters): 2 prime-minister visits; 2 ministers of defence and armed forces visits; visit of the head of the Labour Party etc (usually about 3 visits in 10 years)
  • It is easy to do business in Estonia: we are like-minded
  • The lobby is not needed: it is likely Estonia is on the same side
  • Integrated review: foreign policy review- what we want to do as a government in the next 5 years (mentions Baltics; in 2022 we have the closest relationship than ever)
  • We have tanks (most of the spending), tech, and trade

1. Tanks

Estonia leads the way: “Do not believe Russia”

  • Acting front
  • Being called hysterical even by the Nordic Nabours

“The notion that the time of Stalin’s and Hitler’s is over is dangerous”

  • Do not diminish anybody’s strength or right to be where you are by their size: it is important to understand the context, history, and where they are coming from

“The skill of diplomacy and negotiation is a life skill”

  • The biggest military support to Ukraine
  • Quick reaction to and welcoming of the Ukrainian refugees

2. Tech


  • The largest number of unicorns per capita
  • E-residency; can do everything online except for marrying and divorce
  • In 1991 we did not have a choice and saw everything as an opportunity for development

The UK

  • Having a debate about having ID cards; no digitised health 
  • There are a lot of lessons we can learn from each other
  • Opportunities to cooperate in the cyberspace and data

3. Trade

Climate and environment

  • COP Glasgow 2021
  • UK initiative about ocean alliance: expertise offshore
  • No competition, it’s about cooperation in this space

“It is about being able to amplify your expertise”


  • PISA studies: first in Europe
  • Literacy rate of 100%

Estonia on a global stage: Estonian Size as One of Its Superpowers

  • Little corruption: smaller systems are easier
  • No history of being a colonial power/occupier; very important, when you are on the global stage (the context matters): having a more credible voice
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