In recognition of their service, Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet awarded medals, accompanied by words of appreciation, to Estonian servicemen who have participated in missions and operations.
Minister of Defence Laanet noted that Estonia operates in crisis-stricken areas, which may seem like they are very far away and foreign, but still directly affect the security of Estonia and its Allies.
“Our participation in international military operations and missions has made us smarter and stronger, both today and in the future. By working together with our Allies, servicemen and members of the Defence Forces and Defence League gain experience in places with very different landscapes, climates and cultures, bringing home new knowledge and experience,” he said.
Laanet added that, over a period of 26 years, thousands soldiers have participated in international peace support operations.
“Estonia’s footprint in crisis management – especially in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali – is significant, given the size of our country and Defence Forces, and our main Allies – the United States, France, United Kingdom and others – appreciate highly the professionalism and commitment of yourselves and your comrades to the objectives of each mission, which has become one of Estonia’s most recognized hallmarks of quality,” he said.
Laanet noted that every operation or mission must end someday our NATO Allies decided that Alliance forces would leave Afghanistan before 11th of September 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. ISAF, which lasted until the end of 2014, was one of the most difficult operations.
“We hope that Afghanistan will not revert to chaos, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Estonia will continue to cooperate with France and other partners in Mali, in order to prevent the Talibanisation of the country and the entire Sahel region,” he stated.
Finally, Minister of Defence Laanet thanked the families and relatives of the servicemen, whose support is invaluable.
Minister of Defence Laanet awarded medals to the servicemen for their service in operations and missions in Mali (Barkhane, MINUSMA and the EU Training Mission – EUTM), Afghanistan (RSM – Resolute Support Mission), at the Mediterranean Sea (EUNAVFOR MED), and in Lebanon (UNTSO/UNIFIL).