Kabul, Afghanistan, 8 October 2019 – Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and Commander of the Defence Forces Major General Martin Herem met with Estonian soldiers serving in the NATO mission Resolute Support in Afghanistan and got acquainted with the work of the Estonian contingent. The Estonian infantry unit provides military protection to allies advising and supporting the Afghan security forces.
“I recognise the professionalism and bravery of the Estonian soldiers and police officers. During the two days of meetings, we only heard commendations for the skills and commitment of the Estonian combatants, both for the soldiers and police officers serving here now and those who did their part in Afghanistan in previous years,” said Prime Minister Ratas at the meeting with the Estonian contingent.
Ratas also recognised the friends and families of Estonian soldiers. “I greatly appreciate the support of families and friends of members of the defence forces who make it possible for these women and men to contribute to the safety of us all so far from home,” the prime minister said.
“By helping Afghans stand up for themselves, the lives of the people here can become safer and better with our support. It is not only important for the present and future of Afghanistan, but for the whole region and the world,” the prime minister said.
Ratas highlighted the excellent cooperation with the United Kingdom in Afghanistan as well as the participation of British forces in the NATO battle group in Estonia. The Estonian infantry unit is operating in Kabul as part of the Kabul security forces led by the United Kingdom.
In Afghanistan, 42 members of the Estonian Defence Forces and one representative of the Police and Border Guard Board are currently serving on the Resolute Support mission. Four of them are based in the city of Mazār-i-Sharīf in Northern Afghanistan and the others in Kabul. The Estonian infantry unit serving in Kabul is part of a UK company that includes seven countries in addition to Estonia. In total, Estonia currently has more than 100 members of the defence forces serving in international operations.
Since 2015, NATO troops have been operating on a support and training mission in Afghanistan. Its purpose is to train and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions, thereby contributing to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and strengthening stability in the region. The mission currently has about 17,000 members of the defence forces from NATO’s allied and partner countries. Estonia and its allies have consistently contributed to the Afghan missions with their units since 2003. The government has approved the continuation of the current NATO advisory and training mission in 2020. The mandate has passed the first reading in the Riigikogu and the second reading is in November.
Prime Minister Ratas also met with the leaders of the Kabul security forces and the United Nations relief mission in Afghanistan today.