Minister of Defence Jüri Luik presented medals of the participant of international military operations to the nearly 140 servicemen who have participated in operations this year.
Minister of Defence Luik thanked the servicemen for their service and emphasised that this service is important to the people who live in crisis areas, as well as to Estonia, since it allows us to maintain strong relations with our allies. Luik said that NATO forces stationed in Estonia are a part of that same solidarity that exists between allies, which is also represented by our service members in distant places of unrest, with international operations therefore serving as a direct part of Estonia's defence.
‘The practical experiences acquired during operations are priceless when it comes to Estonia’s national defence,’ said Luik. ‘We are not big enough as a country to be able to maintain an expeditionary army, which is why everything collected and acquired during missions serves to further the development of our defensive capability’.
‘I am pleased to see a number of familiar faces in this auditorium, since many of you have been serving in the Defence Forces for a long time, and I also had the opportunity to meet with many of you several months ago, in Kabul,’ said the Minister of Defence. ‘The experience gained there has once again confirmed the common understanding that the Estonian solider is the world’s best soldier’.
In connection with the addition of two new operations this year, in Mali and Afghanistan, the number of international operatsions’ medal recipients was the highest in a long time. Medals for participation in international military operations were awarded to servicemen who participated in missions in Lebanon, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel.
In addition, individuals who were once again participating in military operations received a medal with a ribbon brooch, on which the number of missions participated in is marked. The most experienced had been on their ninth, six and fifth missions, respectively.
At the end of the ceremony, the infantry platoon served in the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon UNIFIL presented a donation to the representative from the Carol Illenzeer Foundation, to help support the children of wounded or fallen veterans.