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On Thursday, the Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Mati Raidma met with the Speaker of the provisional parliament of the Central African Republic Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet and the chairpersons of the committees of the parliament in Bangui.

At the meeting with the Speaker of the parliament, the potential further cooperation of the two countries was discussed. “It gave a basis for new ideas concerning the fields in which Estonia could contribute to the building up of the Central African Republic. For example, Estonia is dealing with the e-government and e-parliament issues in several African countries, and why not do it also in Central Africa,” Raidma said.

According to Raidma, the Speaker of CAR was very well aware of the presence of Estonia, and one of the reasons for that was very simple – the Speaker lives in the fifth arrondissement of Bangui, where the Estonians are responsible for security.

“For me, one sentence of the mayor of the arrondissement also had a significant meaning. He said that for the first time in history he was sorry that the members of foreign armed forces of a would be leaving the country. This gives a high evaluation to the professionalism of the members of our defence forces, and also shows that their heart is in the right place,” Raidma said.

Raidma added that the four-month mission in the CAR shows what the Estonians are really capable of. “For me, this operation busted several myths. Before the African mission, it was very extensively discussed in the society. For example, it was thought that Estonians would not be able to adapt to Africa, because the people and culture of that continent are too distant and alien for us,” Raidma said. He also said that he was once again convinced that the members of the Estonian defence forces are able to act successfully in all conflict areas, regardless of their geographical location.

“This conviction is of great importance from the viewpoint of the security of our own state, the structure of our national defence and the confidential cooperation with our allies,” the Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu added.

According to Raidma, four months is a sufficient length of time for the CAR operation, and now it is time to analyse what has been done, to record the experience and to face forthcoming security challenges.

During his visit to the Central African Republic, Raidma also met with the Secretary General of the administration of the parliament Davy Victorien Yama and the policy advisor of the representation of the European Union Bernard Piette, with whom he discussed the future prospects and challenges.

The Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Mati Raidma and the Commander of the Defence Forces Major General Riho Terras visited the base of the Estonian Defence Forces and met the leaders of the EU mission and local institutions in the Central African Republic, in Bangui.

The European Union military mission in the Central African Republic is planned to last until the end of the year. France, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Finland, Romania, Poland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, United Kingdom and Georgia participate in the mission. The Estonian infantry platoon’s mission in the Central African Republic will last until the end of August. The Riigikogu gave its mandate to using the members of the Estonian defence forces in the peacekeeping mission in the CAR in the middle of February.

The photos of the Estonian Defence Forces of the visit are available here.