Acting PM Lawrence Wong at the Joint Inauguration of the Opening of the Estonian Embassy in Singapore

PM Lawrence Wong | 5 June 2023

Remarks by Acting Prime Minister Lawrence Wong at the joint inauguration of the opening of the Estonian Embassy in Singapore on 5 June 2023.


Your Excellency Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia,

Excellencies and Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Let me start by congratulating the Estonian government on the official opening of this Embassy. I am delighted to be here for the inauguration ceremony with the Prime Minister. It is truly a very beautiful design. I am sure it is a labour of love for everyone who has put this together – you can take great pride in finally having a beautiful Embassy right at the heart of Singapore's business district. 


2. I understand that the Embassy started operations earlier in 2021, although the official opening had to be pushed back because of Covid-19 restrictions. But the delay meant that the opening this year also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I am sure that the Ambassador had not planned for this, nor for it to coincide with the visit of the Prime Minister. But I am glad that, fortuitously, all of these have come together, and we are able to gather here today with our friends from Estonia, with the Prime Minister and your delegation, to mark all of these important milestones in our bilateral relationship.


3. Singapore and Estonia may be far apart geographically, but indeed we share many similarities and common interests. We are both relatively small economies – relatively small, because Estonia has a smaller population than us, but a much larger landmass compared to Singapore. You have natural resources that we do not have. But on an overall basis, we are indeed relatively small economies compared to much larger economies in the world. We are open economies as well. We rely heavily on trade, and that is why we are both staunch supporters of free trade and a rules-based international order. We work closely at international fora like the WTO and the United Nations. We also both believe in the importance of human capital. And we place great emphasis on innovation and technology to keep pushing the frontiers and to improve the lives of our peoples. 


4. All these commonalities and shared perspectives have provided a strong foundation for our bilateral relations, which has grown from strength to strength. In 2016, Singapore became the home of Estonia’s first Enterprise Estonia office in Southeast Asia. We have also recently agreed to collaborate in the areas of Cyber Defence, and Digital Cooperation. 


5. Our people-to-people ties have grown stronger too. We have had regular exchanges amongst our political leaders. Then-Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid visited Singapore in 2021, and this year, we are honoured to have the visit of Prime Minister Kallas. Singaporean ministers have been visiting Estonia, including, most recently, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Minister for Communications & Information Josephine Teo.  We certainly encourage more of such exchanges.



6. Of course, for any relationship to be strong, we also need regular exchanges across all levels – not just at the political level, but also amongst our businesses and at the people-to-people level. That is why I am glad that our Institutes of Higher Learning have been collaborating with TalTech (Tallinn University of Technology) and the Estonian Academy of Arts on student exchanges for some time, and we will continue to encourage and promote such exchanges. There is also a steady stream of visitors between our two countries, and I am sure this will continue. In fact, it has already been rebounding with the lifting of Covid restrictions, and I'm sure we will continue to see a strong two-way flow of visitors between our countries. With the opening of the Estonian Embassy today, we can expect more exchanges, more interactions between our countries, all of which will help build cultural ties, mutual understanding, as well as trust – key ingredients for any relationship to thrive and prosper.


7. Our business exchanges are also growing. The Prime Minister has included in her delegation several Estonian businesses to explore opportunities for collaboration. One area of promise, as the Prime Minister said, is in tech – all sorts of tech. Estonia has a vibrant tech start-up scene and we welcome your companies to use Singapore as a base, forge links with local partners and investors, and work together to expand overseas into this part of the world, in Southeast Asia and beyond. Indeed, with the recently concluded EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, as well as the digital partnership, Singapore is well-placed as a launch pad to our region. Likewise, we encourage our enterprises to make use of Estonia as a base to seize the many opportunities in the Baltics and wider European region. And here now with this Business Hub, I am sure many of our enterprises will find it more convenient to link up with you and to venture abroad through Estonia. So I am glad that our two countries will be deepening our business ties, by expanding cooperation to facilitate such business-to-business link-ups, especially in the areas of technology and innovation. 


8. Efforts like these are crucial in today’s troubled world.  As small countries, we are acutely aware that the world is a dangerous place, and we are vulnerable to the vagaries of global forces well beyond our control. We would like the world to be different. But as small countries, we have limits on how we can shape these powerful forces. Instead, we have to take the world as it is, and find ways to adapt to the ever-changing external environment. We both understand that no one owes us a living. So we have to rely on our own wits and ingenuity to survive, to thrive, and to do our best to maximise our chances for peace, stability and prosperity for our countries and for our peoples. United in our shared perspectives and circumstances, we have worked well together over the last 30 years. Let us continue to build on these achievements to take our bilateral relationship to the next bound.  


9. Thank you very much and congratulations once again.

Foreign affairs