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At the sitting on Tuesday, the plenary assembly of the Riigikogu discussed the participation in the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic with up to 55 active servicemen. The discussion was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the sitting and will continue on Wednesday.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “The Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the European Union Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic” (583 OE) enables Estonia to participate in the European Union peacekeeping mission EUFOR RCA (European Union military operation in the Central African Republic) in the Central African Republic with up to 55 active servicemen as of the entry into force of the Resolution until 31 August 2014, and with up to 5 active servicemen until the end of the year. Estonia’s participation with a unit will be a one-time event and, after the end of the four-month rotation, a new unit will not be sent to the Central African Republic. The task of the Estonian infantry platoon will most likely be to conduct security and support operations with the aim of enabling the units of the French and African Union-led peacekeeping operation MISCA to conduct other operations. Also, a mandate is given to involve up to five staff officers or professional specialists in the same mission until the end of this year.

The Minister of Defence Urmas Reinsalu who presented the draft Resolution said from the rostrum in the chamber of the Riigikogu that the international community, led by France, had decided to intervene resolutely in the conflict in the Central African Republic in December last year. “By decision of the UN Security Council, the relevant African Union peacekeeping mission and the French supporting them were tasked with the termination of hostilities and creation of the conditions necessary for delivering humanitarian aid. In January, the European Union, the UN, the United States of America and other organisations contributed more than 500 million dollars towards humanitarian aid and restoration of elementary services,” Reinsalu said.

Estonia supported the Central African Republic with 130 000 euro in total in 2013. This year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has promised to give 100 000 euro to mitigate the situation of internally displaced persons suffering violence, the Minister added.

Speaking about the participation of other countries in the mission, Reinsalu said that Sweden, Great Britain and Poland had announced of supporting with air transport, Lithuania had promised logistic support, and Finland had announced that it was going to contribute servicemen to the mission. “There is also a long list of other countries who are considering contributing or are deciding on it but have not yet informed the public of it,” Reinsalu added.

Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Mati Raidma said that, in addition to the Council of the European Union Resolution of 20 January to support the military mission in South Africa, the UN Security Council had adopted a Resolution on 28 January, on the basis of which the Council of the European Union had decided on 10 February to begin a European Union peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

“Mission. The Union shall conduct a military bridging operation in the CAR, EUFOR RCA, to contribute to the provision of a safe and secure environment, with a handover to the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (AFISM-CAR) with four to six months of Full Operating Capability, in accordance with the mandate set out in UNSC Resolution 2134 (2014) and concentrating its action in the Bangui area,” Raidma quoted the Council of the European Union Resolution of Monday.

The first reading of the draft Resolution was suspended at the end of the working hours of the sitting. The third item on the agenda, the first reading of a Bill initiated by the Estonian Central Party faction, was not deliberated.

The Bill on Amendments to the Defence League Act, the Military Service Act and the Military Service Act Implementation Act (579 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. The aim of the Bill is to implement some of the measures provided for in the veteran policy which ensure payment of the single compensation as a lump sum to servicemen and members of the Defence League.

 ”If a serviceman or a member of the Defence League becomes incapacitated for work, the compensation is paid as a lump sum. Since health damages received in military service are often of a permanent nature and the ability of the person to earn his or her living by working is not fully restored, it is not justified or fair to pay the prescribed compensation in several parts as is the case at present,” the Minister of Defence Urmas Reinsalu explained.

Secondly, the Bill provides for increasing the military pension for participation in an international military operation. The military pension of an active serviceman who has participated in a mission is going to be increased by 1 per cent for every mission. For example, if an active serviceman has a tenure of active service of 20 years, the amount of his pension is 50 per cent of the average of the salary scale of the post which is the basis for the amount of the pension.

The Act is planned to enter into force on 1 October this year.

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).