At its today’s sitting, the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) supported by consensus the draft Resolution that would allow sending up to 50 troops of the Estonian Defence Forces to Mali as part of French military mission Operation Barkhane until the end of this year in order to fulfil the international commitments of Estonia.
In the opinion of Chairman of the Committee Hannes Hanso, this is a major security policy decision because France is closely connected with the security of Estonia. “The French are contributing to ensuring security in the Baltic region, and this would be our opportunity to support the French,” Hanso said. “By participating in the operation in Mali, we will show that Estonia is not only a consumer of security, but also contributes to ensuring of peace.”
If the Riigikogu gives a mandate to Operation Barkhane, the Defence Forces would send a mechanised infantry platoon, national supporting element and staff officers to Mali.
Hanso said that would become the largest foreign mission of the Defence Forces, and its main purpose is counter-terrorist activity. Operation Barkhane is an international military operation led by France in Africa’s Sahel region. Its main objective is to stabilise the situation in the region. Operation Barkhane also supports the UN peacekeeping mission and the European Union Training Mission in ensuring stability in Mali.
At present, Estonia has sent seven active servicemen to Mali: four to participate in the European Union Training Mission EUTM and three to the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA. These operations are not connected with Operation Barkhane, but they complement each other and coordinate their activities.
France presented an official invitation to participate in Operation Barkhane in the Republic of Mali to Estonia in January. The Riigikogu plans to discuss the granting of the mandate to the Defence Forces on 11 April.
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