Foreign Relations and International Agreements

Communication of Estonia with other subjects of international law is called foreign relations. Foreign relations can take place as participation of Estonia in the international legislative drafting or as everyday operative activities in organising relations between countries via negotiations and correspondence. Foreign relations are managed by the foreign relations bodies – the Riigikogu, the President of the Republic, the Government of the Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries within their areas of government.</span>

Foreign relations are also regulated by the principles and rules of the international law. The relevant rules of the international law become rules of the Estonian legal system by signing or ratification of international agreements.

International agreements

The Government of the Republic signs international agreements and presents to the Riigikogu those agreements that need ratification. Ratification means an international act with which a country expresses its consent about the agreement being obligatory for the country. Ratification cannot be conditional and it is not obligatory. Still, it is considered a good practice that countries should not sign agreements that they do not intend to ratify. Denouncing an international agreement means withdrawal from the agreement, cancelling the agreement or stepping back from the agreement. With this act, the country frees itself of the obligations resulting from the international agreement.

 The Riigikogu ratifies and denounces the following types of agreements of the Republic of Estonia:

  • Agreements changing state borders
  • Agreements requiring an approval, amendment or cancellation of Estonian laws in order to be applied
  • Agreements by which the Republic of Estonia joins with international organisations and associations
  • Agreements by which the Republic of Estonia takes military or proprietary obligations
  • Agreements stating ratification.

The Riigikogu ratifies agreements via approving a law and the ratification law is published in the State Gazette. The Republic of Estonia does not sign any such international agreements that are in discrepancy with the Constitution. An international agreement can be in discrepancy with an Estonian legal act regulating the same matter and in this case the international agreement is taken as a basis for activities and decisions.

Compiled by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs