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Today, the National Defence Committee heard the report of the Defence Forces and the Ministry of Defence on the incident that occurred in the city of Tapa in the middle of May. The Committee concluded unanimously that despite this one regretful case the civilian-military cooperation in Tapa requires no special measures.

Based on what the Committee learned, the Chairman Enn Eesmaa explained that although the British went too far while enjoying their free time, there was no need to make generalisations based on one deplorable incident. “The 15 May incident was definitely regrettable but we were assured that the existing information does not indicate an escalation of the situation, and does not call for special measures,” Eesmaa said.

The Committee condemns any such incidents and will keep a close eye on these in the future. The Committee also does not discount the possibility that the press coverage of any incidents gives our Eastern neighbour ammunition for launching disinformation campaigns. 

Eesmaa emphasised that cooperation with the NATO contingent is excellent at all levels. “This is not only about the smooth military cooperation but also the daily cooperation at multiple levels with the local population,” he said and referred to the construction of sports venues in Tapa as an example.

The civilian-military cooperation in Tapa was outlined by the Deputy Commander of the Defence Forces Major General Indrek Sirel and the Undersecretary for Defence Readiness of the Ministry of Defence Meelis Oidsalu.

Sirel admitted that the 15 May incident in Tapa was upsetting and deplorable but saw no need for applying extraordinary measures. “We are ready to respond if problems should ever recur,” Sirel said. He assured the Committee that ensuring military order and discipline in Tapa base and outside would always remain a priority.

Sirel told the Committee that the situation had been discussed with Tapa Municipality Mayor, and cooperation with the local government continues. Sirel has not received any signals from Tapa local government about the situation being tense. He described the daily relations with the locals as good, although admittedly minimal. According to Sirel, the members of the NATO contingent have been encouraged to spend their free time outside Tapa as well at every opportunity. 

NATO soldiers have served in Tapa since 2014. Over a period of four years, over 5,000 British soldiers have been in service there. During all these years, there have been less than ten registered incidents.

Criminal proceedings have been initiated in the case of the incident between a member of the allied forces and an Estonian member of the Defence Forces. The Police and Border Guard Board in proceeding the possible breach of public order and the legality of the use of force.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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