Meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the military campus of Tapa on Saturday, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said that Britain has made a remarkable contribution to ensuring security.
“We greatly appreciate the United Kingdom’s contribution to the security of NATO in the Baltic Sea region. British military support to Estonia can be traced back to the Estonian War of Independence and this summer, their units were represented in Estonia on land, in the air and at sea,” Ratas said according to spokespeople.
The Estonian premier recalled that only recently, London hosted the NATO summit where allies demonstrated unity and solidarity.
“After leaving, the United Kingdom must become a very special partner, a close ally to the EU, and that’s what we all are making a common effort for. We wish for as close as possible relations in all fields, especially foreign, defense and security policy, as well as economy and education,” Ratas said.
The two heads of government also talked about digital and cyber cooperation.
“We see yet untapped possibilities in this and wish to further develop that cooperation. I invited Prime Minister Johnson also to the digital summit to be held next fall and the meeting of counterparts from the Nordic and Baltic countries and Ireland preceding it to jointly discuss cooperation in finding solutions in e-health and European health data management,” Ratas said.
Also discussed was education cooperation after Brexit. Ratas said the United Kingdom is a very popular destination for Estonian students and it’s important that the situation of students would not deteriorate after Brexit. In addition, the heads of government talked about climate change and next year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow.
The British prime minister made a one-day trip to Estonia to personally thank servicemen and women for their service and make clear the British government’s commitment to the armed forces, the prime minister’s office said in a press release.
Johnson served Christmas lunch to the servicemen and women at the Tapa military base and ate with them in the canteen.
Tapa is home to 850 British troops from the Queen’s Royal Hussars serving in the NATO battlegroup alongside personnel from Estonia, France and Denmark. The UK is the framework nation of the battlegroup.
The deployment to Estonia is the UK’s largest operational deployment in Europe and forms part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. Besides, a RAF contingent performed the NATO Baltic air policing mission out of the Amari base in Estonia from May to September this year.