In honour of the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna is presenting awards to people who have distinguished themselves in developing and supporting Estonia’s national defence.
The Minister of Defence stated that he was pleased, on the eve of the anniversary of the Republic, to be able to bring attention to the men and women who have helped create a strong and protected country. “Recipients include diplomats and state officials as well as teachers, entrepreneurs, athletes, and musicians. They can all be characterised in the same way – they have made a notable contribution to Estonia and its defence,” said Minister Tsahkna.
The Second Class Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence was awarded to Commander Jussi Voutilainen, Finnish military attaché in Estonia, during whose term of service defence cooperation between Estonia and Finland has grown considerably. Commander Voutilainen has played a major role in the development of Estonia's armoured manoeuvring capability and the training of infantry fighting vehicle CV9035 specialists at Panssariprikaati, Finland’s training school for armoured troops. He has also helped prepare Estonia's planned procurement of mobile K9 artillery from South Korea.
With a Third Class Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister of Defence thanked Reserve Lieutenant Mihkel Puusepp for his command of a Defence League company and Private Martin Kupper for his help in the forming of a Headquarters Battalion in the short notice exercise “Okas” (Quill), held last autumn.
Singer Lenna Kuurmaa was honoured by the Minister with a Third Class Cross of Merit for her repeated performances for servicemen serving in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Carolin Illenzeer Fund and charity concerts organised to support injured servicemen.
The Minister of Defence recognised Lt. Col. Margot Künnapuu – who with her high level of professionalism and four children, is a role model for many people – for her distinguished service in developing defence cooperation between Estonia and the European Union.
A Third Class Cross of Merit was also awarded to long-time active national defence trainer Ahto Mäeots, who began to independently give national defence courses at Paide Upper Secondary School in 1989. Several of his former students have become or are studying to become officers at the Officer’s School at the Estonian National Defence College. One of his students is former Minister of Defence Sven Mikser.
A Third Class Cross of Merit was awarded to Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem, who has made great contributions to the development of Estonia’s defence industry as both an entrepreneur and the Chairman of the Estonian Defence Industry Association Council.
The Minister of Defence presented a silver pin to the members of the Management Board of the Toronto Estonian Society, who for years have supported Estonian soldiers taking part in foreign operations and men and women wounded in combat.
Implementers of important defence related innovations last year – responsible for establishing the Centre for Defence Investment, preparing the long-term National Defence Development Plan, organising the increase in the presence of NATO Allies in Estonia, and organising or participating in the additional training exercise Okas – earned the thanks of the Minister of Defence.
The Minister also recognised national defence instructors, leaders of the Young Eagles and Home Daughters, and defence industry promoters, with various awards.