This week, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met the Estonian contingent serving as part of the French-led military operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali to learn about their service and to thank them for ensuring the security of the region.
‘We must realise that cooperation between Allies can be efficient only when it has a very clear and practical output. Mali is important to us in two respects, firstly, it demonstrates that we are a member of the international community, one that understands that crises in different locations around the world are, whether directly or indirectly, also affecting us here in Europe. Secondly, it serves to significantly strengthen our relationship with France, which – as a nuclear power and member of the NATO Battle Group stationed at Tapa – is one of our most important Allies,' Luik said.
Within his visit, Luik also met the Defence Minister of Mali, Major General Ibrahima Dahirou Dembélé, and leadership from the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Forces, to learn about the latest security developments and the main challenges facing Mali’s armed forces.
‘The strengthening of Mali’s armed forces and the ability to conduct operations independently is definitely a long-term goal we share with our Allies but, as Estonia knows very well from the building up of its own Defence Forces, it takes time to build a functioning system. Estonia is able to offer its unique experience here, as well as set an example. When it comes to Mali, it should be kept in mind that their military forces must deal simultaneously with repelling enemy forces and neutralising very complicated threats,’ Minister of Defence Luik said after meeting his Malian counterpart.
According to Luik, Estonia is able to share its knowledge of information technology in Mali, as well as North-Africa more broadly, which would, in the case of the Malian army, help to bring order to the entire system.
Estonia is participating in three different operations in Mali and currently contributing nearly 50 troops to the French-led Operation Barkhane. Staff officers and instructors from the Estonian Defence Forces are serving as part of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA and the European Union training mission EUTM Mali. Operation Barkhane is the biggest foreign operation for France and Estonia. The Minister of Defence was accompanied on his visit by the Commander of the Defence Forces, Major General Martin Herem.
Photos attached and available at: https://pildid.mil.ee/index.php?/category/59828
Additional info: roland.murof[at]mod.gov[dot]ee