Minister of Defence Jüri Luik said that Europe's defence initiatives must be open to its strategic partners during a meeting of EU Defence Ministers on Tuesday.
"Estonia is interested in supporting the inclusion of strategic partners in cooperation projects associated with the European Union's defence initiative PESCO, the conditions of which must be as clear and flexible as possible. Europe must do more, starting with increasing defence expenditures, but the European Union's defence initiatives must also be open to our allies and strengthen NATO and EU cooperation. Transatlantic relations are the cornerstone of European security and will remain so," said Luik in Brussels.
Ministers discussed European Union and NATO cooperation and approved 13 new PESCO projects.
'In the case of PESCO projects, it is important that a high level of ambition is maintained and an emphasis placed on their meaningful continuation,' said Luik.
Ministers also gained an overview of the current state of the European Union's six military missions and operations. The discussion focused on the EU operation in Sahel and, more specifically, on the EU Training Mission in Mali.
"Europe must act in Sahel, since the stabilisation of the region will alleviate security risks. Estonia has contributed to ensuring the security of the Sahel region since the start of the Mali conflict in 2013. Since the summer of 2018, Estonia has been participating in Operation Barkhane with 48 servicemen and we are planning to increase our participation," said Luik.
On Nov. 6, the Riigikogu issued a mandate for the participation of up to 160 servicemen in international operations. Estonia will also deploy Special Operations Forces to Mali.
Editor: Helen Wright