Gallery: Estonian troops in Lebanon celebrate Independence Day
Early on Wednesday morning members of the Estonian Defence Forces currently serving in Lebanon celebrated Independence Day with a flag-hoisting ceremony.
The Estonians, currently part of UN base 6-50 in South Lebanon, hoisted the national flag at exactly the same time it was raised on the Pikk Hermann Tower in Tallinn this morning.
"Independence Day is very important to the members of the Defence Forces, as it was 98 years ago that the newly achieved freedom needed to be defended right away. We are here today thanks to the struggles of our ancestors, 3000 kilometers away from home, and we can hoist the Estonian tricolor," said the commander of the Lebanon contingent, Major Kalle Kõlli.
"Flying the flag today is symbolic in several ways, because soldiers of Scoutspataljon as well as Finnish troops are participating, now our brothers in arms on this peacekeeping mission. Scoutspataljon fought in the War of Independence as well, and it was the Finns that voluntarily came to our help 98 years ago," said Kõlli.
After the flag hoisting ceremony the soldiers talked to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Lieutenant General Riho Terras via video link. The festivities will continue in the evening, when the contingent will be joined by other Estonian personnel, who are currently stationed in the area as part of the UNTSO mission.
In total, about 40 Estonian military personnel are currently serving in Lebanon.