Members of the Defence Committee of the Eduskunta (Parliament of Finland) visited Estonia at the invitation of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia). Today they had a meeting with Vice-President of the Riigikogu Enn Eesmaa and held a joint sitting with the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu. At the sitting, it was admitted that the defence cooperation between the two countries was expanding.
Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso said that the fact that Finland was not in NATO would not hinder defence cooperation. “My Finnish colleague said today that like Sweden, the USA and the United Kingdom, Estonia was the most important security cooperation partner for Finland. It is very significant,” Hanso said. “Military cooperation between Estonia and Finland has never before been so intensive and close as now.”
Hanso emphasised that the Finnish units participated in exercises in Estonia, the countries cooperated in military training and procurements. He pointed out as examples that the radars of the Estonian Air Force had been procured jointly with Finland, and at the moment the joint procurement of K9 self-propelled artillery, which also involved further maintenance and procurement of ammunition, was in progress. “Together with the Finns, we participate in the peacekeeping mission on South Lebanon, and we would like to continue that cooperation,” Hanso said. He added that both countries participated together in hybrid centres, which are a mutual defence cooperation project of the European Union and NATO. “Naturally, there are also issues that need to be resolved – one of them is sharing the radar picture that covers the whole Baltic Sea region,” Hanso noted.
Deputy Chairman of the National Defence Committee Mart Helme pointed out that in the strained security situation, Finland was an example of how to develop independent defence capability. “Finland has chosen the right model, which we can follow,” Helme said. “We on our side can be an example in developing cyber defence. Today’s meeting contributed to the exchange of experience.”
Vice-President of the Riigikogu Enn Eesmaa recalled that today’s meeting was a continuation of the long-time cooperation between the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu and the Defence Committee of the Eduskunta, which had started on 17 May 1993, when the National Defence Committee was visited by a two-member delegation from the Defence Committee of the Eduskunta. It is the longest international cooperation of the Riigikogu committees after the restoration of independence.
“On the basis of today’s meeting, it can be said that nearly 25 years after the beginning of the cooperation between the committees, the relations between our countries are stronger than ever before,” Eesmaa said. “It is proven by the interest of both sides to strengthen security capability in the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland region.”
The Finnish colleagues also assured that the bilateral defence cooperation was functioning well. Cooperation at the European Union and NATO level was also successful. It ensures that the close neighbours are in a common information field. At the meeting, the Finnish Defence Committee gave an overview of the development plan and the defence spending of their army, which were approaching the level of 2 percent of GDP established in NATO.
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