Yesterday, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met with Malian Minister of Defence Tiémoko Sangaréga. Mali's Minister of Defence thanked Estonia on behalf of the Malian Government for its significant contribution in ensuring Mali’s security. The Ministers discussed defence related cooperation between the two countries and opportunities for expanding cooperation between the two countries into other areas, such as information technology.
The Minister also met in Mali with the leaders of the European Union and UN mission MINUSMA and EUTM Mali, and emphasised that Estonian soldiers are serving together with their allies in Mali in the name of a common goal. ‘In addition to ensuring Mali’s stability and security, we are taking part in ensuring broader international security, as well as the security of Estonia,' Luik said. Luik also met with Estonian servicemen, who are serving in the EUTM Mali and MINUSMA missions and thanked them for their significant contribution to ensuring security there.
At his meeting with Joanne Adamson, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Jüri Luik expressed his condolences over the loss of ten peacekeepers in the terrorist attack that took place on Sunday, in the northern part of Mali. Luik confirmed to Adamson that Estonia will continue contributing to the peacekeeping mission.
At his meeting with Brigadier General Peter Mirow, Mission Force Commander of EUTM Mali, and Ambassador of the European Union Ambassador Alain Holleville, the discussion focussed on the primary goal of the EU's mission, which is the training of Mali's local forces and support for the political process, especially in the current year of general and local elections.
Mirow, as well as the staff officers that participated in the meeting, cited the fact that local soldiers are very interested in training and highly motivated. The main challenges are finding the correct equipment and middle management. Mirow thanked Minister of Defence Luik for Estonia’s contribution and recognised the professionalism of our soldiers. At the meeting, Minister of Defence Luik said that Mali’s complicated political and security situation is a threat to the surrounding region as well as Europe. Luik added that, along with working with allies to stabilise the local situation, Estonia is also contributing to several missions in Mali.
Estonian soldiers have been serving since 2013 in Mali as part of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA and the European Union training mission EUTM-Mali. Since August of 2018, 48 Estonian servicemembers have also been contributing to the French-led Operation Barkhane. Estonia is participating in MINUSMA with three staff officers, and in the EUTM Mali mission with five staff officers and an instructor.
One of the reasons for the complex situation in Mali is the cross-border movement of terrorist groups, as a result of which instability and crime are spreading all across the Sahel Region. ‘Armed groups operating in the region are fractured and at loggerheads with one another,' noted Minister of Defence Luik.
Today, the Minister of Defence will travel to Gao to meet theh Estonian service members serving in Operation Barkhane.
Additional information: Susan Lilleväli, susan.lillevali[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee, +372 5866 7113