Today, the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) passed nine resolutions on the use of the Estonian Defence Forces in the performance of the international duties of Estonia, according to which up to 371 Estonian servicemen will participate in operations led by NATO or its member state, the EU or the UN next year, if necessary.
In the opinion of Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Hannes Hanso, continuous participation of Estonia in joint missions with the allies shows that Estonia is not only a consumer of security, but also contributes to it. “The contribution of Estonia, and its extent, will depend on the needs of a specific operation and the possibilities of the country,” Hanso said. He pointed out that Estonia could contribute with staff officers as well as certain units, for example, mine clearance team, infantry platoon, special forces unit or medical workers.
“The decisions the Riigikogu made today ensure our swift and flexible participation in missions when necessary,” Hanso said. He noted that besides performing international obligations, the servicemen of the Defence Forces would also get a possibility to exercise and work with the allies. Hanso emphasised that missions create a strong common ground also with those countries that are not members of NATO.
Member of the National Defence Committee Johannes Kert stressed the consensus of the Committee in regard to the missions. Kert also considers it important that Estonia continues active participation in international missions, helping to resolve problems in crisis regions and keeping the country internationally visible. The missions will also give the Estonian Defence Forces significant experience from different headquarters and regions.
By the resolution of the Riigikogu, Estonia will continue participation in the NATO operation in Kosovo with up to three active servicemen, up to six active servicemen will participate in the NATO-led advisory and training mission Resolute Support in Afghanistan, and up to ten active servicemen in the Operation Inherent Resolve, an international military mission is targeted against ISIL mainly in Iraq. Besides that, up to 50 Estonian servicemen will continue participating in the UN-led international peacekeeping mission UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) in Lebanon.
The participation of up to six active servicemen in the UN-led peacekeeping mission UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization) in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria was extended. Up to six active servicemen will continue participating in the European Union military mission EUNAVFOR Med (EU Naval Forces in the Mediterranean) in order to fight human traffickers in the central area of the Mediterranean, between the territorial waters of Italy and Malta and Libya. Estonia will also extend the participation of up to ten active servicemen of the Defence Forces in the European Union Training Mission EUTM Mali (European Union Training Mission in Mali), and up to ten active servicemen in Mali in the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).
The Riigikogu also decided that, if necessary, up to 220 servicemen of the Estonian Defence Forces will participate in NATO Response Force NRF, and up to 50 active servicemen will be used in operations led by NATO or its member state, the EU or the UN, or in another international military operation in compliance with the generally recognised principles of international law.
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