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Today, the President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas laid a wreath in Tapa military base to honour the memory of fallen members of the Defence Forces. In his speech, he said that fulfilling Estonia’s allied duties did not end with the mission in Afghanistan. 

“Duties end but memories remain,” Ratas said, adding that just like the memorial had been brought from Camp Bastion in Afghanistan to Tapa, so the experience of the operations area would always stay with the veterans today and in the future.

Ratas referred to the decision of the NATO allies to conclude the 20 year long military presence in Afghanistan this autumn. “As a country, we went there to support our allies and fight against international terrorism. Fulfilling these goals fell to Estonian servicemen, who completed their mission with flying colours,” Ratas declared.

“On Veterans Day, we pay homage to our servicemen who have taken part in international military missions on behalf of Estonia for more than 25 years,” Ratas said. He sees foreign missions as an important component of Estonia’s security policy and international cooperation. He added that members of the Estonian Defence Forces help to guard peace across the world, serving in Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Middle East, and the Mediterranean. 

More than 3,000 servicemen have so far taken part in foreign missions. Among these brave women and men, dozens have been injured during missions, and tragically 12 have lost their lives in the line of duty. “Estonia will never forget the hard work and sacrifices that you and your families have made,” said the President of the Riigikogu. “We are extremely grateful for your contribution to ensuring our security and preserving our independence.”

The Veterans Day is a day of saying thanks and giving recognition to the men and women who have taken part in military operations far from home to strengthen Estonia’s security and international image of reliability. Due honour is also shown to their families and close ones. The Veterans Day tradition was introduced in 2013.

Photos (author: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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