The minister of Armed Forces of France Florence Parly and the Minister of Defence of Estonia Jüri Luik have met today on the margins of European Intervention Initiative Ministers of Defence meeting in Hilversum, Netherlands, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of signing a bilateral defence cooperation agreement between France and Estonia on 11 May 1994 and to underline the shared aim to deepen bilateral defence cooperation between France and Estonia.
Over the last years, the defence cooperation between France and Estonia has significantly increased. The military personnel of both countries have served side-by-side in the Sahel region and as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup in Estonia in order to strengthen a shared strategic culture, European security and NATO’s collective deterrence and defence posture.
Building on that excellent partnership, France and Estonia have a common understanding for further strengthening operational cooperation, both in the operation Barkhane and as part of the Estonian eFP, and therefore bringing their bilateral security cooperation to a new level.
NATOs eFP concept is an indispensable part of Allied deterrence and defense posture. France has on a rotational basis contributed to Estonian eFP in 2017 and again in 2019, unambiguously demonstrating Allies’ solidarity, determination and ability to act against any aggression. France is determined to continue its operational commitment as part of the Estonian eFP again in 2021. This continuing contribution of French troops to the NATO battlegroup in Estonia is enduring sign of how seriously France, and more broadly the Alliance, takes the strengthening of the deterrence posture.
Estonia and France both consider fighting terrorism and illegal human trafficking in source and transit countries an important part of common European security. Estonia has participated together with France in operation Barkhane since 2018 in fighting against terrorism in Mali and assisting Malian Armed Forces in building up their capacity to ensure their own security. Estonia is determined to continue its participation in operation Barkhane in 2020 with an increased contribution, by deploying an infantry platoon and special operations forces.
Estonia and France have actively cooperated also in the cyber defence domain through policy discussions and practical information exchange. Both countries assess cyber defence being part of the conduct of military operations and participate in dedicated training and exercises.