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Government adopts 7 foreign mission bills for next year

Kaitseväe juhataja kindralmajor Riho Terras Kesk-Aafrika Vabariigis PHOTO: Kaitseväe peastaap

Estonian government on Thursday adopted bills according to which next year up to 154 members of the Estonian defense forces would take part in international military operations in the NATO Response Force (NRF) as well as in Afghanistan, Mali, Kosovo, the Middle East and the Nordic Battle Group of the European Union.

«By taking part in foreign missions we fulfil our duties that we have as a member of international organizations," Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said. "We are showing that we contribute to the security of other states, that we are not only consumers of the safe security environment that being a member of NATO or the EU gives us,» he added.

According to Mikser by taking part in international military missions Estonia secures its own security. "Fast reaction of NATO allies and moving units to Estonia confirm the efficiency of Estonia's security policy, including taking part in foreign military missions," he said.

One of the biggest missions for the Estonian defense forces next year will be participation in NRF, the Estonian input to which will consist of one minehunter, a ship crew of up to 40 regular personnel, and up to five staff officers. Estonia's contribution to NRF this year was of the same size.

Up to 50 Estonian defense personnel are to be assigned to the EU's Nordic Battle Group. EU battle groups are military units with a response time of 15 days that the union can use in international crisis management. The Estonian personnel will be on standby in Estonia.

Up to 25 Estonian personnel are to participate in the NATO Resolute Support follow-up mission in Afghanistan. The follow-up mission will be a training and advisory mission, not one conducting combat operations.

Besides the Ministry of Defense is asking the Riigikogu for extension of the mandate of 10 members of the defense forces in the EU training mission Mali and increasing the Estonian participation in the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA there. The Estonian input to MINUSMA would be boosted to 10 personnel from two staff officers now.

There are also plans to extend the mandate of three Estonian personnel deployed with the NATO KFOR operation in Kosovo and of six personnel taking part in the UN military monitoring mission in the Middle East. And, finally, the ministry is seeking a mandate to post up to five members of the defense forces to the headquarters of a new military operation of NATO  or the EU should such a headquarters be set up.