Estonia and U.S. preparing agreement regulating legal status of U.S. military personnel (1)
The agreement would regulate the status of members of the U.S. armed forces, their dependents, and contractors of the U.S. armed forces staying in Estonia in more detail. It would also complement the agreement already in place on the status of armed forces between NATO member states (NATO SOFA).
Erki Kodar, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Defence for legal and administrative affairs, said that the agreement would dispense of red tape and grant members of the U.S. armed forces as well as American contractors in Estonia certain advantages based on common strategic interest and principles.
Kalle Kirs, deputy director of the ministry’s legal department, said that compared to the NATO SOFA agreement signed in 1951, the agreement to be concluded with the United States dealt with a wider range of topics, including for example the environment.
The agreement would also regulate the application of Estonian penal law to members of the U.S. armed forces and their dependents. It would determine in greater detail the cases in which the jurisdiction of Estonia as the receiving state, and the U.S. as the sending state would apply to U.S. military personnel.
Tax exemptions that are to be included primarily focus on goods and services meant for official use. One of the basic principles in international defense cooperation is that no country must earn money at the expense of the armed forces of the sending state.
After the agreement is signed by the Estonian minister of defense and the U.S. ambassador to Estonia, it then has to be ratified by the Riigikogu.
Estonia has previously signed similar agreements, with Germany for instance. The United States has signed similar agreements with Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, and several other countries.