Stenbock House, 28 August 2014 – Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and Minister of Defence Sven Mikser welcomed home the servicemen returning from their mission in the Central African Republic at Tallinn Airport, thanking them for their outstanding service. Rõivas and Mikser also thanked the families, friends and acquaintances of the servicemen who came to meet them for their support at home.
Deputy Chief of Defence Colonel Artur Tiganik and the representatives of the French Embassy in Estonia also took part of the welcoming ceremony in honour of the Estonian Defence Forces’ Central African contingent in the old terminal of Tallinn airport.
“I want to thank you for honouring the Estonian Defence Forces with your professionalism,” said Prime Minister Rõivas. “Your successful work had a major role in the acceptance of EUFOR by the locals.”
Rõivas also thanked the servicemen for their great contribution in the continuation of Estonia’s independence, saying that international cooperation is the guarantee for Estonia’s security.
“We were the first country after France to be ready to go to Central Africa,” said Rõivas. “While many others were still trying to find the Central African Republic on the map and were incapable of formulating their readiness to help them, Estonia gave a clear promise and started fulfilling it.” Our determination gives Estonia a moral right to expect immediate help from others should we ever need it.”
At the welcoming ceremony, the Minister of Defence, Sven Mikser, presented the servicemen with medals of recognition for international missions.
“While visiting you in Africa in July, I saw first-hand that you held the Estonian flag high and showed yourself at your best in the difficult circumstances of Africa, as Estonian soldiers always do,” said Mikser. “You have served Estonia well. Thanks to your outstanding service, Estonia now has a very specific and close military operation experience with France, one of the largest countries in Europe.”
The Estonian servicemen started their mission in the Central African Republic in the beginning of May with a task to carry out security and support operations in order to free the troops of the African Union peacekeeping mission and the French troops to carry out immediate operations.
In approximately four months, the Estonian infantry carried out over a hundred patrols in the CAR capital of Bangui, around fifty of them at night, completed about ten convoy securing tasks and participated in about twenty operations. In addition, Estonians have ensured the security of the EUFOR UCATEX base. In the last months, Estonians have been responsible for the third and fifth districts of Bangui, which are one of the most critical areas in the capital with Muslim and Christian citizens.
The Defence Forces Central African Republic contingent of around 50 members was mainly comprised of a platoon-sized unit, consisting mainly of the Scouts Battalion B company. In addition to the infantry, logistics specialists and staff officers also served in the Central African Republic. Most of the servicemen of the contingent had previous experience in military operations. The European Union military operation in the Central African Republic has been planned to continue until the end of this year. The countries participating in the mission are France, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Finland, Romania, Poland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, United Kingdom and Georgia.
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