During their telephone conversation this morning, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly discussed the attack in Mali and closer cooperation in standing against various threats.
‘We are proud of Estonia’s servicemen, who are protecting the security of Europe in Mali,’ said Minister of Defence Luik. ‘We wish a fast recovery to our combatants.’
‘It is in our interests to stand together with our allies against threats, understanding each other’s needs and strengthening our allied relations,’ stated Luik.
French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly thanked the Estonian servicemen for their exemplary action and wished them a fast recovery. Parly emphasised that the professionalism exhibited by Estonia’s servicemen in the face of the assault is why the French servicemen hold their Estonian comrades in such high regard.
Estonia is contributing a 50 member infantry unit, armoured personnel carriers and support elements, to operation Barkhane. The unit is stationed at the Gao field base, and is tasked with ensuring the security of the base and the surrounding area.
Last night, suicide terrorists attacked the military base in the city of Gao, in Mali – where servicemen from Estonia, France and Mali are serving – using a homemade explosive device placed in a car, and addition to French and Malian soldiers, six Estonian servicemen serving in Operation Barkhane were injured in the attack.
The servicemen injured in the attack immediately received first aid and their injuries were not severe.
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.
Operation Barkhane covers the territory of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, although the centre of conflict is in Mali, the central authority of which France has been supporting since 2013 in its fight against Islamists. Barkhane is France’s largest military mission. French units participating in Barkhane are continuously dealing with the carrying out of anti-terrorist operations.
France has been directly ensuring Estonia's security since 2017, contributing a company-sized unit to the NATO battle group stationed in Estonia.
Additional information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee