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At its today’s sitting, the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) and the representatives of Tapa Rural Municipality, the 1st Infantry Brigade, Enterprise Estonia, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications discussed the developing of Tapa region in connection with the arrival of the NATO allied units.

Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso believes that the arrival of the allies to Tapa will bring along important changes. “From the perspective of national security, it is important that the allies are with us. Certainly their arrival also has an economic dimension to the local business, which we have to use in the right way. Jobs and entrepreneurship are important factors that make the attitude of the local community positive towards the allies,” Hanso said.

In Hanso’s opinion, the region will experience a total change, and therefore it is especially important that the local people and entrepreneurs saw an opportunity in this and used it. He noted that the coming of 1300 troops to Tapa would double the purchase power there. The entrepreneurs should make the most use of that situation, and also create new jobs. “People will understand that it is of great benefit to them,” he said. “We have to create such a situation that the allies would like to be here as long as possible.”

Member of the National Defence Committee Johannes Kert pointed out that Moscow had reacted nervously to the plan of positioning of the allied forces in the Baltic States, presenting it misleadingly as an aggressive step by NATO. In his opinion, the experience of Germany and Lithuania shows that there is a certain likelihood of threat of provocations, especially in the form of information operations.

The Chairman of the Committee said that extensive construction activities were going on at Tapa. The Estonian construction companies are building new barracks, a canteen and other objects necessary for the garrison, which also mean more jobs. Hanso said that the National Defence Committee was interested in taking part in the discussions concerning the development of Tapa, and would also certainly make a visit to the region in the nearest future.

Rural Municipality Mayor of Tapa Alari Kirt explained the Committee that preparations for the coming of the allies had been going on for a couple of years already. He said that several new restaurants had already been established and more are expected. He thinks that the shortage of possibilities for sports and leisure is a bottleneck. It is necessary to repair the stadium of the city, to construct a swimming pool and public fields for ball games. The road network also needs investments.

The battle group of the Allies will arrive in Tapa at the end of March. The battle group will be formed of French and UK units, with around 1300 troops and heavy equipment.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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