More commitment abroad for Estonia

Proposals from the Ministry of Defense in Tallinn have passed second reading in the Unicameral Parliament (Riigikogu), allowing Estonia to be able to participate in international military operations with up to 125 military personnel next year.

“It is extremely important for Estonia that, despite the difficult situation in the Baltic Sea region, we are also ready to support our closest Allies in foreign operations. The activities of terrorist groups in the Sahel region have not disappeared and the broader international security situation shows no signs of calming down. We must continue to be ready to contribute to ensuring international security,” said Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet, according to whom international military operations are one of the main opportunities to contribute to international security and strengthen relations with Allies.

Estonia will continue to contribute in Mali at the current level through its Task Force Takuba: “We are closely monitoring the situation in Mali together with our Allies. It is important for us that the situation in Africa does not become more unstable, which, in turn, would affect European security in the future,” Laanet noted.

In addition, the Riigikogu approved the expansion of the area of operations of the Estonian Special Forces participating in Operation Takuba in Niger. As a result, the Government of the Republic approved an agreement granting the Estonian military unit participating in Takuba legal protection (including privileges and immunities) and the right to operate in Niger.

As a new operation, the Estonian Defense Forces will participate in the European Union’s training mission in Mozambique, to support the development of the military capacity of the Mozambican armed forces. Estonia is prepared to send a legal advisor to Mozambique. Serving as the lead nation for the mission is Portugal, an important Ally of Estonia. The country is on the southern flank of both the EU and NATO and has also contributed to the security of the Baltic Republics. Estonia is contributing a single staff officer to Operation Inherent Resolve – the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIL – which aims to fight ISIL primarily in Iraq and Syria.

Estonia will contribute one staff officer to the NATO mission in Iraq, as it had done in the first half of this year, two staff officers to the European Union military mission EUNAVFOR Med/Irini, which aims to support the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya using air, satellite and maritime capabilities, one staff officer to the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and three military observers to the post-conflict peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria.

In addition to the planned operations, Estonia also has a total of 304 military personnel ready. Estonia is ready to contribute to the NATO Response Force (NRF) with a total of 80 military personnel and to the NATO Readiness Initiative (NRI) with up to 200 military personnel. In addition, Estonia is ready to participate in the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) with up to 24 military personnel. JEF is focused on ensuring security in the Baltic Sea region and the North Atlantic, thus strengthening the defense and deterrence posture in the Baltic Republics.

As in the previous years, the Government has received a mandate for the possible first time and urgent participation in an international military operation led by NATO or a member state, the EU or the United Nations, the mandate for the coming year provides for a maximum of 100 of the military.

Image: Flickr

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