Stenbock House, Tallinn, 7 October 2018 – Yesterday in Gao, Northern Mali, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and General Riho Terras, Commander of the Defence Forces, acknowledged the professional contribution of the Estonian troops serving in Barkhane, a French-led anti-insurgent operation.
“The security situation in the world is complicated. By serving in international operations far from home, our forces are actually defending Estonia every day. We will not let terrorism take root and sprout in Mali, nor reach us,” Ratas said.
According to the prime minister, states do not make decisions on deploying their forces lightly, especially if the circumstances are as complicated as they are in Mali. “The work of our troops proves that Estonia values the security of all our friends and allies. This includes France, who has deployed their forces to NATO battlegroup in Tapa and is securing the Baltic air space from Ämari. We can be trusted, and we can be counted on,” Ratas said. „I’d also like to thank the families and loved ones of the Estonian soldiers. Their support is fundamental,“ prime minister added.
In Mali, Estonia is collaborating with France as well as United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Operation Barkhane is the largest French anti-insurgent operation abroad, including 4,500 troops. France asked Estonia to participate in Barkhane in January this year. Riigikogu approved it in the beginning of summer, after Mali invited Estonia to the country.
As of August, 48 Estonian soldiers are defending the Gao military camp, patrolling its surroundings, and are ready to react quickly in case of danger. The objective of Barkhane is to help the forces of Mali establish stability and control in their country. Right now, the unguarded borders of Mali are a gateway to terrorists but also illegal migrants on their way to Europe.
Photos (Government Communication Unit): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tx17tji1ticgjj8/AADfsMpiWPNd9CRnzrCSypq9a?dl=0