Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia began a three-day state visit to Estonia Tuesday — their first official visit to the former Soviet repubic in more than 30 years.
Estonian President Alar Karis and his wife welcomed the Swedish king and queen at Tallinn’s central Freedom Square with full military honors, and an enthusiastic crowd of adults and children alike waved the Estonian and Swedish flags.
The president’s office said the visit, to both Tallinn and the second city of Tartu, “underscores the close friendship between Estonia and Sweden, all the more so given that it is taking place during the 50th anniversary of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s accession to the throne.”
The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — all former Soviet republics that are members of the European Union and NATO — are Sweden’s neighbors across the Baltic Sea and have close business and political ties with Stockholm. Estonia also has historical links to Sweden, as the small nation of 1.3 million was a province of the Swedish Empire in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
The last time King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia paid a state visit to Estonia was in 1992, a year after the Baltic nation regained in its independence after nearly fifty years of Soviet rule.
The royal visit will focus on boosting cooperation between the two countries in the security and defense sectors, economy and in the field of education, research and innovation, the Estonian president’s office said.
King Carl XVI Gustaf ascended the throne on Sept. 15, 1973, and is Sweden’s longest reigning monarch. In early June, the king will mark his 50 years on the throne with extensive celebrations.
Source : AP News