Minister of Defence: Estonia ready to continue military missions in the Sahel
Yesterday, Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet, who is in Paris, met with his colleagues from countries participating in the activities of Task Force Takuba, as part of Operation Barkhane, in Mali. The future of the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region was discussed at the meeting. Today, within the framework of his visit, Minister of Defence Laanet will also be taking part in French National Day celebrations.
“The joint meeting was necessary because France, in whose missions Estonia is actively participating, is reorganizing its military activities in the Sahel region. In order to achieve a common understanding regarding future of cooperation, we need to clear things up with our partners,” said Laanet.
Laanet noted that it is too early to say how Estonia will proceed in light of the planned changes. “We need to reassess the situation based on the discussion. However, I can confirm that Estonia is satisfied with the co-operation taking place in Mali and, if possible, we are ready to continue participating in the future,” Laanet added.
It was emphasised at the meeting that political developments in Mali will be closely monitored to ensure that the country’s transition period ends as it should and that stability is maintained. “The political situation in Mali is still fragile, and important steps need to be taken to strengthen it,” Laanet specified.
“It is promising that the President of Mali has confirmed that he will comply with the agreements requested by the international community, including the holding of elections in February 2022, and the transfer of state power to the civilian government,” Laanet confirmed.
The Estonian Defence Forces have an important role to play in ensuring the security of Mali – it is the site of Estonia’s largest international military contribution. Operation Barkhane involves an infantry unit along with a support element and staff officers, and special operations forces from the Defence Forces are operating within Task Force Takuba. Both operations are being led by France and are taking place alongside the EU EUTM and UN MINUSMA missions in Mali, to which Estonia is also contributing servicemen.
Minister of Defence Laanet was also at celebratory parade of the French National Day. Marching alongside the French units there are servicemen from the Estonian Special Operations Forces who have served in Mali, and confirmed the importance of the experience gained from operations in Mali at yesterday’s meeting with the Minister of Defence.
Today’s French National Day, also known as Bastille Day, received its name from the storming of the fortress-prison of the same name. The event, which took place on 14 July 1789, is considered to be the beginning of the French Revolution, which led to the overthrow of royal power and the proclamation of the republic. A fortress-prison, the Bastille was a symbol of royal power, as well as the despotism and inequality prevalent in society at the time.
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