President: Estonia working to reduce tensions in Middle East

A protester waves the national flag while demonstrators set fire to close streets near Tahrir Square during a demonstration against the Iranian missile strike in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.

PHOTO: KHALID MOHAMMED / AP / SCANPIX

After a meeting with the prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister and chairman of the Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, President Kersti Kaljulaid said that Estonia is working to reduce tensions in the Middle East.

“The conflict that has erupted in recent days concerns us directly and Estonia is making its contribution to ease tensions. It is also our responsibility – Estonia is a member of the UN Security Council, a member of the European Union, our troops are in Iraq. We must cooperate with other countries through all channels to mitigate the conflict and to prevent a full-scale military confrontation,” Kaljulaid said.

The head of state also strongly condemned Iran’s missile attacks against allied military bases in Iraq on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. “Iran has in recent decades repeatedly acted aggressively and has not respected international law. The country’s behavior has been a threat to international security and to our allies. This threat is not theoretical, but has repeatedly materialized, which has also triggered a strong reaction from the United States. We support our ally,” Kaljulaid said.

As of today, there are seven Estonian servicemen in Iraq and their missions are continuing. However, according to Kaljulaid, it is important that future decisions about these missions would be made by allies in a joint and coordinated manner. Similarly, the greatest possible unity between the members of the European Union is important in these matters, and the further Estonian activities were agreed upon to coordinate this communication.

The head of state invited Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Defense Minister Jüri Luik, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu and chairman of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee Enn Eesmaa to Kadriorg on Wednesday morning to discuss the conflict that has erupted between Iran and the U.S. over the last few days.

At the meeting, Luik gave an overview of the recent developments, also information was exchanged on interaction with foreign partners to date. The head of state also discussed the situation, Estonia’s positions and actions in the UN Security Council with the ministers and foreign affairs committee chairman.

In related news, Col. Tõnu Miil, commander of the contingent of the Estonian Defense Forces in Iraq, affirmed on Wednesday morning that everything is alright with the seven EDF members serving in Iraq and that they will gradually be moved to Kuwait where a new OIR staff will be set up.

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