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President Kaljulaid to a Defence Force unit about to depart for Lebanon: I believe in you


Estonia is not merely a consumer but is also a provider of security, said President Kersti Kaljulaid today in Paldiski to a Defence Force unit about to join the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, to maintain peace along the Israel-Lebanon border.

"For me, sending Defence Force units on a mission is both important and the right thing to do. Just like today, I shall always plan to find time during my term in office to meet these men and women who are about to be deployed on foreign operations," said President Kaljulaid.

"I have promised to be present at all times when our freedom and security are at stake. The work you do, regardless of where in the world, always involves a struggle to maintain the freedom and enhance the security of Estonia," added the Head of State.

President Kaljulaid empathised that the security policy importance of the Middle East has not diminished, and Estonia will always take part in ensuring stability within the changed security situation. "We will also undertake this in regions that are distant from Estonia, thereby being not merely a consumer but also a provider of security," said President Kaljulaid.

"I hope that you will return as even more professional soldiers. The Republic of Estonia will await your to return. The Republic of Estonia needs each and every one of you. I believe in you," she added.

Today, President Kaljulaid placed flowers at the Camp Bastion memorial in Paldiski, which was erected in memory of fallen defence force members. During her visit to the military base, the Head of State was also given an overview of the Scouts Battalion and Kalev Infantry Battalion.

Additional information:

The functions of the Estonian members of peacekeeping units of the UN UNIFIL mission is to patrol their area of responsibility day and night, employing both on-foot and motorised teams, man observation posts and fulfil all and any related peacekeeping tasks. The functions of the Estonian members also include patrolling the control line or the Blue Line that separates Israel and Lebanon, day and night. The Blue Line that separates Israel and Lebanon marks the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the invaded Lebanon regions and was agreed upon by the two parties in 2000, with the assistance of the UN. Despite the fact that the Blue Line area is usually peaceful, several conflicts have emerged between the parties in recent years. The UNIFIL units serve the function of preventing an escalation of the situation in the region and in co-operating with Lebanese armed forces.

Approximately 40 defence force members, including staff officers, will be deployed in Lebanon, made up largely by a team-sized unit, Estpla-22. The Estonian infantry unit is a part of a Finnish-Irish battalion, which is the only multinational battalion of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL. In total, 40 countries are currently contributing to UNIFIL. This is the fifth Estonian infantry unit in Lebanon. In 1996-1997, an Estonian infantry company served in the UNIFIL mission.

Office of the President
Public Relations Department