Draft legislation, which would allow the Estonian Defence Forces to contribute up to 50 active servicemen to Operation Barkhane, the French-led military operation in the Republic of Mali, passed its first reading in the Parliament today.
‘Estonia has been an active contributor to international military operations since the restoration of its independence, and by doing so has ensured our own security,' said Minister of Defence Jüri Luik. ‘Doing so has helped Estonia to become a solidary and reliable ally, whose positions are taken into account,’ added Luik.
Estonia is planning to participate in Operation Barkhane with an infantry unit consisting of up to 50 members, armoured personnel carriers and support elements. The platoon would be tasked with providing force protection in the form of base security and close area patrols.
The platoon, formed on the basis of the Scouts Battalion, would be a part of the French unit, and be located in the Gao field base, in Mali.
According to Luik, our contribution to the French-led operation will lead to closer relations between our two countries, and will further strengthen Estonia's position regarding security questions within NATO and the European Union.
‘The events taking place in Africa affect us all; hence, we cannot leave threats originating from the south to be handled by countries that are located closer to Africa. In the same way, France considers the security of our region to be a shared concern, and is set to once again join the Allied unit stationed at Tapa next year,' noted Minister of Defence Luik.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led operation in the Sahel region of Africa, the objective of which is to manage the problems arising from the region, in particular those directed at Europe, such as terrorism and illegal immigration. In addition to Estonia, Great Britain has also announced its participation in the mission.